The House of Eliott by Jean Marsh, published January 2011 by Pan Macmillan.
Read: August 2013
Genre: Historical Fiction
Goodreads Synopsis: Left penniless after the death of their father, independent Beatrice Eliott and her beautiful younger sister, Evangeline, brave wicked relatives, scandal, tyranny, and poverty to build a successful fashion establishment, The House of Eliott.
I should start off this post by saying that I discovered The Book People around February 2013, and I haven’t looked back. I could spend HOURS on their website just drooling over their wonderful selections of books at great prices, and I often wait for a discount code to be released before making a considerable purchase – in fact most of my to-read pile (which my sister lovingly calls my “wall of books”) is made up of The Book People collections that I haven’t gotten around to yet. I purchased this book as part of one of those collections because The Silver Linings Playbook was part of the set, and the collection of 10 books cost less than Silver Linings on its own, but that’s another story…
When my beautiful big box of books arrived, this was not one that immediately caught my attention. In fact, I read the blurb on the back cover and set the book back into my “wall of books” on more than one occasion. I go through what I can only describe as genre-phases; for a few months I read YA pretty much constantly, I’ll shake it up and read a lot of thrillers, then I’ll go back to ye ole faithful chick-lit. The House of Eliott is set in 1920’s London and at the time this just did not appeal to me, I assumed that the story would be slow and dull. Oh, how wrong I was…
Without giving too much away – The House of Eliott tells the story of two sisters, Beatrice and Evangeline, who are the epitome of 1920’s Independent Women.
They go through some serious struggles following their father’s death and have to essentially rebuild their lives during a time when women were not always looked upon as equal to men. Woven into the thread of this novel is a unique love-story between Beatrice and the loveable rogue, Jack Maddox, a society photographer, who I may have had a small crush on… Evangeline is the younger, and at times more annoying, sister who is stunningly beautiful and rather naive, but who also has a great eye for design and fashion, which drives the sisters towards their dream of establishing their own fashion house in London.
I was really very pleasantly surprised by The House of Eliott and would even consider holding on to it for a re-read, it was a reasonably light but solid story with some very loveable characters (my favourites being Beatrice, Jack and Molly). I’m going to look into other works by Jean Marsh to see if this was a one-hit-wonder for me or if I have a new favourite author in the making.
After adding this book to my Goodreads shelf, I discovered that it is a follow-up book to a very successful BBC television series created by Jean Marsh and Eileen Atkins, that originally aired in 1994. Unusual that the book followed the TV show and not the other way around… might be worth a watch if you enjoy the book!
Have you read The House of Eliott? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!