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The Doll Factory

Narrated by: Tuppence Middleton
Length: 10 hrs and 54 mins
4 out of 5 stars (5 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal is the intoxicating story of a young woman who aspires to be an artist and the man whose obsession may destroy her world forever.

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 thought of only one thing since their meeting, and his obsession is darkening.... 

This audiobook includes an exclusive interview with Elizabeth Macneal.   

©2019 Elizabeth Macneal (P)2019 Macmillan Digital Audio

Critic Reviews

"A sharp, scary, gorgeously evocative tale of love, art and obsession." (Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train)

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for Liz Scully
  • Liz Scully
  • 05-07-19

Enjoyable & Immersive

An enjoyable fairytale like story with the pre-raphelites as the background. it felt as though feminism had been retro fitted into the story without too much trouble. And it was a pleasant immersion in time and place. I'll definitely keep an eye out for more from this author

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Spiky Potplant
  • 05-15-19

Enjoyable but not quite what I had expected

I enjoyed listening to this story. It has some interesting characters. The Pre-Raphaelite links were fairly well done and I think they anchored the book and gave it a bit more substance and feeling of reality. I had been expecting a Victorian Gothic horror based on some of the reviews but I think it's more historical fiction than horror and not particularly scary. It feels like a very modern story line adapted for Victorian London. No doubt it will be made into a period TV drama very soon!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-19-19

Her first novel.

For a first novel it is excellent. For me I found her writing exquisitely descriptive, not just the characters in the story but the way in which she brings London alive at a not so pleasant period in it's history especially for the poor. Although it paints a picture of a time and place I would love to view first hand, it is not one where I would want to have lived. To say I enjoyed this book does not go far enough but I seriously recommend you to listen to this one if you, like myself are captivated by tales of the 1800s.
At the end She mentioned that she has not finished with this period and gives a brief insite to her 2nd book and I can't wait to hear it. 5stars for The Doll Factory. May there be many more from Miss Macneal.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • bunny_girl
  • 05-17-19

Good story but ending could have been better

I really enjoyed this book until the end. It felt a bit rushed and incomplete.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-06-19

Huge disappointment

After reading so many good reviews, I couldn't wait to start listening. Sorry but have given up after 6 chapters!. For me it seemed very bitty and none of the characters were likeable . The narration was good but the story did nothing for me .

6 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Arianna Halshaw
  • 05-05-19

Excellent listen!

So richly told, this is an excellent story that takes you right back to Victorian London. Highly recommended.

6 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Caitlin Browne
  • Caitlin Browne
  • 05-22-19

Incredibly Vivid

I really enjoyed this book, the way both the author and the narrator describe iris’s process of painting was particularly inspiring, I felt like I too was learning from a master painter

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • bookylady
  • 08-08-19

What a stunner!

For me, this was a first novel that lived up to the hype of the myriad of glowing reviews from publishers and bloggers. It was a really satisfying listen and I particularly enjoyed all of its layers which contained a wealth of period detail and social history.

Set in the year of the Great Exhibition, the story centres on Iris who works, together with her twin sister Rose, as a face painter in a Victorian doll factory. Iris chafes against the constrictions of her life and longs to escape and be a painter. But Rose, who was once beautiful before being disfigured by smallpox, is set against her sister’s plans and wants to bind Iris to her family and the dull, limited but safe life they have in the factory.

Chance meetings between Iris and two different men set off a chain of events that will alter Iris’ life forever. Louis, an artist and a member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, tempts Iris to become his model and to learn how to paint within his studio. Silas, a maker of curiosities and nick-named The Cadaver, dreams of Iris becoming his friend and of her loving him.
Both men call Iris their queen and grow increasingly to desire her. But as one of them falls in love, the other becomes more and more obsessed. It becomes clear that Iris may well have escaped a life of boredom and drudgery to find herself in a bohemian world fraught with hidden dangers.
The novel covers many different aspects of Victorian life and provides interesting insights into the art world, the lives of women, attitudes to marriage and the world of collecting. Iris is a fantastic character, a woman who knew her own mind and set about achieving her ambition to be a painter.
Tuppence Middleton did a great job with the narration.

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  • Valerina
  • 08-04-19

Very Absorbing

I loved the book. It had a great story line. I loved the characters and location. A good read.



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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-01-19

A fantastic book

I loved this. Excellent to listen to and immerse yourself in the Victorian world so intensely brought to life.

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  • Judith O'Doherty
  • 07-02-19

Mystery, intrigue, suspense all here

Loved this book kept you in suspense the whole time. heroine and history is awesome