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 TBR 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 lovable 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!
Oh you must watch the series if you enjoyed the book, Jack & Bea as played by Aden and Stella are perfection – different to the book in some ways (Jack is less damaged, Bea is less fierce) but you should adore it although it is *very* different to the book and only the first episode has any flavour of it. It’s being repeated on ITV3 every weekday and is on YouTube too!
If you enjoyed the book, there was also a sequel to Jean Marsh’s original called ‘The House At War’ by Elizabeth O’Leary which is in the same universe, but follows them through WWII. Both the series and the follow book are available on Amazon so do dive in! *g*
Hello! Thanks for commenting, you are my first official commenter (so not a word) on my blog, so excuse me while I do a wee happy dance!
I caught a glimpse of the TV show when I was channel hopping one day and skipped past it, I didn’t realise it was made in ’94 and I didn’t think I would like it, but I’ve seen a lot of people give it great reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, so I might have to give it a go! I’m nearly at the end of a Friends binge so I could do with a new show. I was super surprised I liked the book as much as I did, so I’ll take a look at O’Leary’s follow-up too.
Bit of a random question but how do authors do that by-the-way? Write a sequel to someone else’s work using the same characters etc.? I’ve seen an e-book only Harry Potter follow-up on Goodreads getting some great reviews and wondered how that would work with copyright…
Awww, so glad to be your first comment! This popped up in a google alert but I shall be sure to stick around!
It was a very popular BBC series, think Downton of it’s day. I loved it as a teenager and love it still. Huge geek for it, and I’m not the only one! I love it not just for the characters but the gorgeous clothes and 20’s lifestyle! I highly recommend watching it on YouTube or catching it on ITV3, it’s the essence of the book/characters but in a more…well, TV way!
O’Leary’s follow up isn’t as well written, but is in within the same ‘universe’ as the book so is worth following up with. The third book is horrific (it’s a self published ‘fanfic’ affair and butchers everyone and every thing) so don’t go near that. I have no idea how O’Leary did a follow up, I imagine she must have had permission or been with the same publishers? I’d be interested to know too.
A Google alert? That’s pretty exciting!
I’m definitely going to check it out and I’ll let you know what I think, it’s always great when a tv/movie adaptation gets it spot on, and it doesn’t happen a lot! I’m going to have a look into how fan fiction can use the same character names and previous story-lines, I definitely would have thought that would have been some sort of copyright issue. I’m tempted to try these Harry Potter follow-ups, afraid that I’ll like them and afraid that I won’t…
Thanks for taking the time to comment, it’s very appreciated!
[…] 4. 1920’s London from The House of Eliott – The glamour, the political movements, the era, the setting. This book pulled me in much more than I thought it would, and I was hopelessly hooked. A really enjoyable historical fiction read, especially for those who normally shy away when the words “historical” and “fiction” are placed together. My review of The House of Eliott. […]