In this “sharp, scary, gorgeously evocative tale of love, art, and obsession” (Paula Hawkins, bestselling author of The Girl on the Train), a beautiful young woman aspires to be an artist, while a man’s dark obsession may destroy her world forever.
The Doll Factory is a sweeping tale of curiosity, love, and possession set among all the sordidness and soaring ambition of 1850s London.
The greatest spectacle London has ever seen is being erected in Hyde Park and, among the crowd watching, two people meet. For Iris, an aspiring artist of unique beauty, it is the encounter of a moment—forgotten seconds later—but for Silas, a curiosity collector enchanted by the strange and beautiful, the 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, and suddenly her world expands beyond anything she ever dreamed of. But she has no idea that evil stalks her.
Silas, it seems, has thought of only one thing since that chance meeting, and his obsession is darkening by the day...
Elizabeth Macneal was born in Scotland and now lives in East London. She is a writer and potter and works from a small studio in her garden. She read English Literature at Oxford University, before completing the Creative Writing MA at the University of East Anglia, where she was awarded the Malcolm Bradbury scholarship. The Doll Factory, Elizabeth’s debut novel, won the Caledonia Novel Award in 2018. Visit her ElizabethMacneal.com or on Twitter @AsMacneal or on Instagram @ElizabethMacneal
"A stunningly confident first novel with a real sense of period and place . . . thoroughly engrossing."
– Ian Rankin, New York Times bestselling author of RATHER BE THE DEVIL
"Thisbrilliant literary thriller gripped me from the opening pageand didn’t relinquish its hold until I’d read the final sentence. The Doll Factory conjures 1850s London in all its grime and glory, possibility and restriction inabsorbing, immersivedetail. Elizabeth Macneal has created that rare thing: a beautifully researched historical novel with a plot to stop your heart. If this is her first book, I can barely wait to see what she writes next."
– Hannah Kent, award-winning author of BURIAL RITES and THE GOOD PEOPLE
“A stunning novel that twines together power, art, and obsession. At every turn expectations are confounded—it’s a historical novel and yet feels incredibly relevant and timely. I loved its warmth, its wry humour, and the way each small thread leads into an unbearably tense and chilling denouement that had me totally gripped.”
– Sophie Mackintosh, Man Booker Prize-longlisted author of The Water Cure
"I loved THE DOLL FACTORY from the very first page and couldn’t do anything else until I’d read right to the end. An exquisite novel of obsession, delusion, resilience and love, Elizabeth Macneal really is a breathtaking new talent."
– AJ Pearce, internationally bestselling author of DEAR MRS. BIRD
“An astonishingly good debut. The Doll Factory reminded me of The Crimson Petal and the White, Fingersmith, and Vanity Fair but had a richness of tone that was uniquely its own. Macneal writes with utter mastery, creating a lushly intricate world peopled by living, breathing characters you can’t help but fall in love with and a plot that rattles like a speeding carriage to its thrilling conclusion. I couldn’t put it down. You won’t be able to either.”
– Elizabeth Day, award-winning author of The Party
“With strong echoes of John Fowles’ The Collector, The Doll Factory is at once a vivid depiction of a morally dubious world, and a page-turning psychological thriller, with a truly compelling villain.”
– Essie Fox, critically acclaimed author of The Somnambulist
“A sharp, scary, gorgeously evocative tale of love, art, and obsession.”
– Paula Hawkins, internationally bestselling author of The Girl on the Train
“Engrossing and atmospheric. Fascinating real historical background (the Pre-Raphaelites) and super invented characters. I can practically see the TV version!”
– Adele Geras, award-winning author of The Ballet Class
“A gripping, artfully written historical novel with a highly contemporary sensibility. The setting—19th century London full of pomp, grime and menace—plays just one part in an immersive and intellectually satisfying narrative that interrogates gender politics, classism, relationships, artistic obsession and erotomania with a painterly eye and gleefully dark heart. Part love story, part gothic novel and leading up to a truly breathless conclusion, this book is destined to be one of the biggest titles of 2019, deservedly so.”
– Sharlene Teo, award-winning author of Ponti
"Fantastic - vivid, poignant, colourful, and elegantly horrifying."
– Bridget Collins, internationally bestselling author of THE BINDING
"THE DOLL FACTORY is brilliant, with a refreshingly original quality, beautifully orchestrated narrative, great characters and some fascinating background detail."
– Andrew Taylor, No. 1 Sunday Times bestselling author of THE ASHES OF LONDON and THE AMERICAN BOY
"THE DOLL FACTORY is one of the best books I’ve read in ages – heartbreaking and evocative. Elizabeth Macneal draws a vivid picture of life in 1850s London, exploring the world of the pre-Raphaelites and examining the position of women through her unforgettable heroine. At the same time, Elizabeth creates a perfectly structured and page-turning story of love and passion; crime and obsession. A wonderful and intense novel. I loved it."
– Jenny Quintana, author of THE MISSING GIRL
"Aremarkably assured and beautifully written debut, filled with sinister delights and intriguing themes of imprisonment and objectification. Atruly captivating read."