The doll factory – Elizabeth Macneal

Hundreds of everyday small, inconspicuous passing and encountering other people’s lives will never move the path of our own. Yet, sometimes such – completely unplanned, completely random encounters – happen that shift the direction of our lives by just a millimeter, turning it into something unknown. Only weeks, maybe months later, as we look at the landscape of our lives, we will wonder how we got there.

The place we arrived at can be exciting and new; it could also be exactly where we started and, spinning round, found ourselves at the beginning of our journey all the time, thinking that we were moving forward. But what if the fate we were heading towards, and directed by that random encounter, was actually dangerous, very dangerous?

The Mrs. Salter Doll Emporium is where Iris and Rose, the twin sisters, work and live. And also, if you asked them and if they agreed to tell you the truth, they were wasting their youth and talent completely. Both dream of another, bigger, better life. But for these two sisters, your better, larger lives are not on the same side of the timeline.

For Rose, such a life exists only in the past; she was the one of those who was mown down by smallpox, and the scars that the disease left on once a beautiful young woman turned her into a sad, withdrawn, bitter shell of a woman who has no longer any hope, resignation counting the days of hard work.

For Iris, a better and bigger life still exists as a possibility; a future far, almost elusive, but enticing enough to dare to dream of a life in which canvases would be painted, not just the bodies of lifeless dolls sold by the unbearable Mrs. Salter.

But mid-19th century London is a large and vibrant place; thousands of dreams are smoldering and boiling in black and white hearts, in healthy and unhealthy souls, in open squares and in dirty, simple little rooms, in private ambitious visions that range from spectacularly dazzling to frightening.

A combination of incredible circumstances will bring Iris to the heart of intersecting some of these visions, to the center of a whirlwind that collides with two strong ambitions, but also strong emotions for art and this red-haired young woman. In these wild currents, Iris will hear the promise that will lift her anchor from the stagnant, murky waters of her former life and move decisively into her own future where she can become all she has always wanted to become.

But suddenly raised to private pedestals, Iris will soon realize that she cannot tell if she is deeply respected and loved, or just deceived and creepily unprotected… Ultimately, the life we want we always have to fight for – resolutely, patiently, cunningly. bloody.

There is no such serious book lover who hasn’t been following all the announcements of this book for almost a year, eagerly awaiting its official publication!

This is not a genre that normally catches my attention, but I could not turn away from this book, I could not forget when it came to the shelves of foreign bookstores, because readers all over the world on all possible social networks did not stop grumbling about this title. And then there was a short lull – I guess people were quietly vigilant day and night to read the “The Doll Factory” while its covers were still warm from the printing presses.  After that, the avalanche of excitement began to roll from what was read.

Of course that that kind of enthusiasm takes you away; I would be a fool if I ignored something like that. And this book really, truly deserves the enthusiasm it has generated for thousands of fans around the world. Elizabeth Macneal skillfully (who would say this is her first title!) wrote a terribly tense, emotionally and psychologically compelling book about dreams and art, about love and obsession; about the inextricable, complex relationship of the ugly and the beautiful, the ennobling and the deranged. The eternal dance of Eros and Thanatos painted and described in one memorable book.

A lot of things have thrilled me in this book; London during the Victorian period, where many of the buildings that today are the main architectural and cultural features of London (Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, Tower Bridge) were just starting to be built; insight into the lives of members of the most elite and wealthiest inhabitants of the city, but also of the poorest, unhappiest; a colorful and evocative style of writing that made it easier for me to “transfer” myself to this past world. And finally – my eternally weak point – the story of a woman who doesn’t apologize for her thoughts, feelings, decisions, and dreams.

I am so thrilled with this book that not even my big complaint can knock down the 5 Goodreads star rating I have given it.

Am I picky , huh? I hope not; it’s not like I sit around and make remarks about books just to have them and make me sound smarter. I make this objection to one specific cliché I thought – I was hoping, actually! – that it the literature read by today’s women was extinct. Elizabeth Macneal set it at the very beginning of the story, and it is so cumbersome and rough that it was biting me to the end of the book.

The pretty is good. Ugly is not. The innocent is good. The other is not. Beautiful and innocent, the two most cherished values in a woman – at least so many centuries have been preached by many moralizers who somehow hold the fate of a woman in their hands – and it is the only way and a guarantee of happiness for a woman. Even that twisted collarbone could not alleviate this cliché that the author, perhaps unintentionally, revived and gave it a new life and a new audience. I seriously resent this, especially because I am convinced that the cliché could have been avoided and that the story would only be more beautiful and deeper and more important.

Yet, this objection did not diminish the value and excitement of this book in my own eyes; book from the heart and I sincerely recommend it. I would just like to hear your opinion too. Dear readers and followers, I am listening to you…

4 thoughts on “The doll factory – Elizabeth Macneal”

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