Top positive review
A magnificent, thought provoking and THRILLING novel!
2 May 2019
This is a truly breathtaking read. I’m not normally one for historical fiction (but I’d say I might be now!!). The way the author captures the sights, sounds (and smells!) of Victorian London is incredible - utterly evocative without ever distracting from the story. And the characters - they are wonderfully cast, complex, with great depth. The story of Iris, the lead character, explores the societal constraints of class and gender, without ever feeling trite, anachronistic or contrived. Likewise joyful Albie, whose perseverance and optimism in the face of so many difficulties utterly wins you over. And Silas - well, he is as far from a two dimensional villain as their could ever be. He is disturbing and yet the author is able to build compassion for him, before whipping it away.
This complexity extends equally to the ‘good’ characters - their behaviour is not unblemished, and the consequences are writ large. It is wonderful to have such a cast of individuals whose stories thread together in the most wonderful way.
But for me, above all, this book really challenges the reader to see on the one hand how far we have come - in terms of growing equality, in terms of the constraints we put on groups of people - while also realising how the idea of a ‘doll factory’ still continues to bedevil so many.
A magnificent and thought provoking novel, and one I would heartily recommend to everyone I know.