The Doll Factory, the debut novel by Elizabeth Macneal, is an intoxicating story of art, obsession and possession. London. 1850. The Great Exhibition is being erected in Hyde Park and among the crowd watching the spectacle two people meet. For Iris, an aspiring artist, it is the encounter of a moment – forgotten seconds later, but for Silas, a collector entranced by the strange and beautiful, that meeting marks a new beginning.
When Iris is asked to model for pre-Raphaelite artist Louis Frost, she agrees on the condition that he will also teach her to paint. Suddenly her world begins to expand, to become a place of art and love.
But Silas has only thought of one thing since their meeting, and his obsession is darkening . . .
I recently picked up the doll factory from a local second hand bookstore after snubbing it at Waterstones when it was released, well I wish I picked it up sooner! This Victorian Era novel explores the concept of a woman’s freedom. Iris begins the novel entrapped and restricted, when she is swept up as an artist’s model she blossoms in her new gilded cage, little does she know a sinister collectors obsession is growing.
I loved how gripping this novel was, the romance with Louis was so beautiful and a striking contrast to the Silas chapters which left me unnerved. The pace was fast and exciting and the characters are flawed and genuine which made them easy to connect with. This book has been compared with the miniaturist which I read earlier in the year and I don’t agree with this at all, The Doll Factory is definitely the superior read in my opinion. My only grievance is the ending wasn’t as satisfying as I was hoping it would be, it wasn’t bad but I just wanted more from it.
Overall a beautiful read and I recommend you pick this one up!