On the publication day of “The House in Quill Court” by Charlotte Betts we are also a part of the blog tour for this gorgeous, captivating, thrilling historical fiction. Charlotte Betts, even though I’ve read only one of her previous novels (two, if we add this one) is already on my auto – buy authors list and I am already impatiently waiting for her new release . no matter what times she writes about, you can be sure that the story is going to be full of facts delivered in a brilliant, interesting ways and strong and independent heroines – just what I like!
The House in Quill Court by Charlotte Betts
Publishing Date: 25th August 2016
Source: Received from the publisher, thank you!
Number of pages: 416
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
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 . . .
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.
Last year I read and absolutely loved – so much that the book made it to my top reads of 2015 – “The Chateau on the Lake” by Charlotte Betts. It’s also not a wonder that I was excitingly waiting for her new release, and in the meantime I’ve ordered all of her previous books that I’m hoping to read in my… ekhm, free time. I love a good historical fiction and I was sure that with Ms Betts’ new release I am again for a real treat.
This was a very compelling and descriptive novel. I loved the writing style and the descriptions, no matter if they were of clothes, decorations, Venetia’s work or Kitty’s life. The author’s knowledge of the Regency era is great and I had a feeling that she feels comfortable in those times and writes about them with a great dose of certainty. She can brilliantly create the atmosphere of the upper class’ life, with beautiful warm houses with the tables full, and the other side, the much worse areas, full of darkness, danger and dirt. The language used by the characters rang so true and suited those times.
One of the biggest Charlotte Betts’s strength is her talent to create incredible, unforgettable heroines. Venetia was one of them – I loved that she stood her ground and that Jack Chamberlain found a right opponent in her – she was not afraid to say what she thinks. She was artistic and she believed in herself and her talent and she used her skills to start afresh after the big announcement – she was great with finances, she designed patterns for wall – paper and pillow – cases and she had a great feeling of business, what’s in and what’s out and how to bring customers to the shop that she was planning to open. Even though she had a brother, she was the one to take responsibility for her family. However, one thing that didn’t sit with me so much was the fact that she was for me like a Robin Hood in a dress, and her actions were just this bit unrealistic to me. I really appreciate what the author wanted to do with Venetia, and I also appreciate when historical heroines are ahead of their own times but this time I just had a feeling she’s a little too far ahead… I could understand she wanted to be independent and wanted to work but some of her – really brave – actions just seemed too unrealistic too me. I mean, organizing a militia, going to save her half – sister under cover… I just thought it is a little too much for a young woman in 1813. Please, don’t get me wrong, I admired Venetia and kept my fingers crossed for her, but for me reading about her was more like a fairy tale than historical fiction…
There is also a parallel story to this of Venetia, and it’s the one of Kitty, Venetia’s maid. Kitty is the one leaving everything behind her, hoping for a new and better life in London. And at the beginning fortune is on her side, she quickly falls in love, marries and is finally happy. Unfortunately, her life changes dramatically and it really broke my heart seeing what’s happening, as I also adored Kitty, she was exactly as strong and independent as Venetia was, there was only the “little” difference of them being born in rich and poor family.
Charlotte Betts can really create larger than life, strong female characters that reader immediately fall in love with but she can also create handsome, annoying male characters, such as Major Jack Chamberlaine, ah… Yes, about Major. At the beginning I wanted to slap him once or twice to be honest. Broody and moody, the Major. With the emphasis on moody. And she can make the villains not only annoying but incredibly interesting and intimidating – there was something incredibly drawing in King Midas, he was awful but he was fascinating in some ways as well.
The story was predictable yet not too predictable, although I started to guess who is King Midas rather quickly, after a sentence or two too much told by a character. The end was like a whirlwind of action and while the pace of the whole book was quick, the end was über – quick, it was like watching the events in the kaleidoscope, though on the other hand it reminded me of action film and I was waiting for someone to shout camera! action! at any moment. The book is full of twists and turns and making it follow two main characters, both from different worlds, has made it even more intriguing and thrilling. The contrast between the two lives is great, even though both girls want the same in their lives: love and independence. The twist at the end was a big one, although, as I’ve already mentioned it, it was my suspicion that it’s going to end in this way.
There is plenty of passion, tension, romance, broken hearts and violence in this story. The second part of it, in comparison to the first, feels like a ride on a speedboat, and sometimes it was too melodramatic, too costume drama for my liking, but nevertheless I found this book incredibly vivid and entertaining. There is also – of course! – a romance element in this story and I really liked that it wasn’t the main focus in this story, yet it was there and added a lot of colour to the whole novel. Altogether, I devoured this book, to be honest and I enjoyed every single moment of it – recommended!
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