Published 25th August 2016
Paperback Original | £8.99
From the multi-award-winning author of The Apothecary’s Daughter, The House in Quill Court is a gorgeously evocative Regency novel bursting with historical flavour and characters you won’t forget. If you love Philippa Gregory and Joanne Harris, you will adore Charlotte Betts.
Blurb: 1813. Venetia Lovell lives by the sea in Kent with her pretty, frivolous mother and idle younger brother. Venetia’s father, Theo, is an interior decorator to the rich and frequently travels away from home, leaving his sensible and artistic daughter to look after the family. Venetia designs paper hangings and she and her father often daydream about having an imaginary shop where they would display the highest quality furniture, fabrics and art to his clients.
When a handsome but antagonistic stranger, Jack Chamberlaine, arrives at the Lovell’s cottage just before Christmas bringing terrible news, Venetia’s world is turned upside-down and the family have no option but to move to London, to the House in Quill Court and begin a new life. Here, Venetia’s courage and creativity are tested to breaking point, and she discovers a love far greater than she could have ever imagined . . .
My Rating: 4/5
Review: I’ve not read a lot of historical fiction but when I have I’ve always loved the descriptions of the past, of places that are familiar to us but at the same time completely different from things are now. The blurb of this book had enough intrigue in it to pique my interest that I was willing to give it a chance despite never having read anything by this author before. It’s a very well written book with a lot of description, perhaps a little too much at times, but certainly enough that makes for vivid imagery of what you are reading about, the locations, characters, sights and sounds.
While the main characters mentioned in the blurb are Venetia and Jack, the female characters of Venetia and Kitty are far stronger in the book than the other characters, including the men. It’s almost as if there are two interlinked but separate stories as we watch the stories of both women unfold as they deal with the changes of moving from Kent to London, meeting new people and having new experiences. For reasons which i can’t clearly explain Kitty comes across as a stronger person to me, even though Venetia is certainly no wilting flower. Perhaps Kitty’s story is more relatable for me as I know had I lived then I would certainly have been a maid or some other type of servant. Although these two characters are by far the strongest the others have their own strengths and their own stories which are developed enough to give them depth and make them as realistic as everyone else.
The book has a good story, it’s one that could easily happen now nevermind in 1813 so it’s easy to understand why feelings run so high in Quill Court and why the characters behave the way they do. I think this is partly why the book is so good, you don’t spend time reading it and finding it hard to follow or disbelieving of everything that happens. In fact, I spent a fair amount of time reading it and completely missing what anyone else was saying to me because I was so caught up in what was happening. There is a big scene near the end that I found a little confusing because so much was happening at the same time but other than that this book is easy to follow and certainly a good choice for a first foray into historical fiction.
Many thanks to Clara Diaz at Little Brown, UK for letting me having a copy of this book, and to the author for writing such an intriguing story. This is my honest review.
Charlotte Betts began her working life as a fashion designer in London. A career followed in interior design, property management and lettings. Always a bookworm, Charlotte discovered her passion for writing after her three children and two step-children grew up.
Her debut novel, The Apothecary’s Daughter, won the YouWriteOn Book of the Year Award in 2010 and the Joan Hessayon Award for New Writers, was shortlisted for the Best Historical Read at the Festival of Romance in 2011 and won the coveted Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Historical Romantic Novel RoNA award in 2013. Her second novel, The Painter’s Apprentice was also shortlisted for the Best Historical Read at the Festival of Romance in 2012 and the RoNA award in 2014. The Spice Merchant’s Wife won the Festival of Romance’s Best Historical Read award in 2013.
Charlotte lives with her husband in a cottage in the woods on the Hampshire/Berkshire border.
For further information please contact Clara Diaz on 020 3122 6565 | Clara.Diaz@littlebrown.co.uk