In Nell Lillington's small Midwestern town of the 1870s, marriage is the obvious fate of a young woman of some social standing. Yet Nell is determined to elude the duties and restrictions of matrimony. So when she finds herself pregnant at the age of 17, she refuses to divulge the name of the father and even her childhood friend Martin is kept in the dark.
Nell's stepfather Hiram sends Nell to live at the Poor Farm of which he is a governor, to await the day when her baby can be discreetly adopted. Nell is ready to go along with Hiram's plans until an unused padded cell is opened and two small bodies fall out.
Nell is the only resident of the Poor Farm who is convinced that the unwed mother and her baby were murdered, and the incident prompts her to rethink her decision to abandon her own child to her fate. But the revelations to which her questions lead make her realize that even if she manages to escape the Poor Farm with her baby, she may have no safe place to run to.
©2012 Jane Steen (P)2014 Jane Steen
The book The House of Closed Doors, by Jane Steen, tells the story of Nell Lillington and her quest for independence. Nell is only 17 years old and lives with her mother and stepfather in a small town near Chicago circa 1870. Nelly’s experience taught her the lack of autonomy a married woman suffers and her skill with the needle gives her the idea of a plan of escape: staying single and independent – which an unexpected pregnancy threatens. This is the outset of a deeply interesting story of personal growth and of the pursuit of one’s own female identity, particularly at a time when women hardly had any space for themselves. Nell’s opposition to marriage is a choice, a desire to be able to choose her own ways and not to be in bondage, and this makes her very relatable. But, at the same time, she is very young, innocent and protected from the world, so she will make mistakes, and she will discover that marriage is not the only kind of bondage she has to face in her search for independence. It is the story of a very naïve person starting to build her character, choosing links that are important to her and trying to get rid of those that are imposed, with all the difficulties the time and the environment imposed on her.
When I first read the summary of The House of Closed Doors, some time back, I got the very wrong idea that story would be a sort of gothic tale about the terrors visited on a pregnant girl took away in a hospice and her struggle to survive. Nothing like that. When I saw that Nell's story would be told in a trilogy I revised my initial idea (learning how the story would somehow progress) and decided to listen to the book as a historical fiction with some mystery, which is much closer to the truth. Even the mystery, in my opinion, takes second place in relation to Nell’s personal story and the historical reconstruction of the time, which is quite nice. In the end, I was very pleased to listen this book and I am anxious to know how it will continue, since the characters’ stories are indeed captivating.
I was given a copy of the audio book in exchange for an honest review and I would recommend it to everyone who likes historical fiction. Jane Steen’s prose is really good and the narration is outstanding with an excellent range of voice and tone, improving the listener experience.
The House of Closed Doors wasn't what I expected. I thought it was going to be a gothic romance or something similar. It turned out to be so much more. I cannot wait for the next books in the series.
Nell is a tough young woman who doesn't want to strap herself down to a marriage. Unfortunately she finds herself pregnant, but refused to give the father's name. So she is sent to Poor Farm. In this place she really grows up. She is not afraid of hard work, and luckily forms easy friendships. After falling in love with her new baby, Nell is afraid to give her up to strangers. She ends up discovering another unwed mother and her baby dead in an unused cell, making her more nervous about her own fate and that of her baby.
Jane Steen is a brilliant writer. I was excited to see where her story would take me next. Elizabeth Klett was the perfect choice for narrator.
This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review courtesy of Audiobook Blast.
Enjoyable, fast-paced story.
The main character Nell. Very strong, independent young lady.
The narration by Elizabeth Klett was a big part of making this story enjoyable to listen to.
I was provided this audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator in exchange for an unbiased review via Audiobook Boom.
I enjoyed Nell's independent streak. She was very brave in such a time that she lived in.
Downton Abbey. Prim and proper with a dose of reality.
Her gentle voice lulled you to keep listening to the story.
Be strong and independent and true to your dreams.
"I was provided this audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator in exchange for an unbiased review via Audiobook Boom."
I loved the dialogue and the characters. You could feel the love and the hate between the characters.
When they talk about Jo and her baby. I will not forget the moment when they talk about how she died.
I do not think so but she does a terrific job on the characters on this one. You lose yourself in the book
I cried when someone died. I cried because she was so young. In those long ago days they did not live very long. So many died at a young age.
This audiobook was provided by the author/narrator/publisher free of charge in exchange for an unbiased review.
The House of Closed Doors by Jane Steen is an interesting tale about a 17-year-old girl from a small town near Chicago in the 1870s. Although at first I thought it was a romance novel, it's actually a murder mystery. The story centers around Nell who finds herself pregnant after a few sweet kisses goes a little too far with a distant cousin from the East Coast. Nell's cousin is much older and more experienced than Nell and he takes full advantage of Nell's innocence and naivety; then, he wants nothing to do with her as he soon departs to travel back East.
After Nell is sent to live at a poor farm for the duration of her pregnancy and "confinement," Nell discovers in an unused part of the farm the bodies of an unwed mother and her baby who were murdered. As Nell investigates the murders, a few other residents start to die under suspicious circumstances. Because Nell's Puritan stepfather practically runs the poor farm and demands that Nell give her baby up for adoption, Nell runs away fearing for their lives.
The rest of the story is primarily about Nell's determination to remain independent as she refuses to name her cousin as the baby's father and the restrictions of matrimony. She even refuses marriage to her long-time neighbor and childhood friend Martin, who stands by her side and helps her out on several occasions, even hiding her and her baby for awhile when she runs away from the poor farm. Her refusal to even consider marriage to Martin when it was clear he loved her and the baby is actually the most unbelievable part of this story. I loved Martin's character and felt so sorry for him!
I listened to the Audible version of this story narratedg by Elizabeth Klett who did a fantastic job. She really brought the characters to life, giving each character their own distinct voice. She was very believable and helped me become totally engrossed into the story. Elizabeth Klett has quickly become one of my favorite narrators. Bravo!
I wanted to like Nell for her independent thoughts and non-traditional gender roles. That part of the book description is probably what convinced me to buy the book. However, the very unlikeliness of her home life, her step-father's erratic behavior, her mother's acceptance of the poor house, the improbable nature of that establishment, the lack of all female friends her own age...it was just too much for me.
This was more of a cozy mystery, which is not my style. Had that been more clear, I would not have purchased the book. And, for me, the book lost an entire star when she refused to trade a bottle of whiskey for a solution to the mystery. Seriously?!? What a ridiculous plot device.
I really enjoyed the uniqueness of this story. The circumstances and setting felt different, and therefor made the book interesting. The characters are believable and practical so when stuff happens you can understand the actions taken. Elizabeth Klett is an outstanding narrator and adds a lot to the story with her ability to bring characters to life. It’s a great story and I can easily recommend it.
This story centers around Nell, who refuses to give in to societal norms.
She is 17 years old and refuses to reveal the name of her unborn child's father.
This was a well written story with well developed characters.
I really liked the female lead, Nell.
Overall this story was a suspenseful read.
Elizabeth Klett did well with the narration.
"This audio book was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review."
I read something online about the author being named after Jane Eyre and I find that incredible because that novel is exactly what I thought of after reading The House of Closed Doors. I remember the first time I read Jane Eyre I couldn't put the book down. I was captured by every word visually seeing it play out deep inside my mind. Jane Steen is living up to her name creating beautiful reads that leave you wanting more. Narrators can make or break an audiobook and Elizabeth Klett was just perfect! I don't usually re-listen to too many audiobooks but this one will be one of them!
“This audiobook was given by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review via Audiobook Boom.”
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