Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
Genre: Historical, Romance
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.
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 . . .
I wouldn’t have even looked at this book twice if I saw this somewhere and that would be a travesty! This was a book I wasn’t expecting but thoroughly enjoyed and isn’t that just the best kind of book? The kind which sneaks up on you and makes you like it so I am glad to have been invited on this blog tour and have a chance to read it.
This was a book which took me longer than usual to read but in a good way. I was savouring every page and although some of the story elements were a bit obvious I did really enjoy it. I mean, this is a book which is quite different to my usual reads and I was a bit uncertain but those doubts went right out of the window.
Let’s Begin With The Positives
This book was such a gripping read. I mean, it’s a historical read and it’s a romance but it’s not the usual historical romance. It’s slower and more about character development and the mystery than being about the romance. It’s filled with a whole lot of story which is what keeps you reading and some characters you can’t help but like.
I think the main reason for me getting to drawn into the book was the dual narratives of Venetia and Kitty. Venetia is from a more privileged background, her father is an interior decorator for the upper class and she dreams of owning a shop with him where she can sell the paper hangings she can design and he can offer his interior design services. Kitty, on the other hand, is Venetia’s maid who dreams of escaping her small town and going to London to seek a better life. The twos lives could not be more opposite. When Jack Chamberlaine arrives in the household with shocking news which changes all of their lives the family moves to London with Kitty along for the ride.
Throughout the book Venetia and Kitty are opposites. At firsts it’s because of the positions they are in, Venetia is privileged and doesn’t have struggle and work for a living and Kitty is simply her maid and every day is a chore with another demand made of her time. As the book progresses their positions are different as Kitty takes quickly to life in London whilst Venetia struggles and has to work so hard for everything she achieves. At times the differences in the two characters bothered me but overall I adored these two people who I could see viewed things very differently. It made the book interesting for me.
It’s a difficult book to review because there are some significant reveals to the story which I don’t want to spoil as that will completely ruin your enjoyment of the book. I have to say, I didn’t expect the direction the book went at the beginning. I did find myself feeling it got a tad obvious towards the end. I mean, not really obvious but I began to be able to predict things just before they happened.
Look, I loved It But It Wouldn't Be Me If I Didn’t Have Some Gripes
I did have a few complaints about this book I enjoyed so much. One is that everything seemed to be happening, it was a book filled with drama. Drama is something I both enjoy and can get frustrated by when it gets a bit too over the top. I think the book managed to keep it on the side of the sensible considering everything which happened in the book I understand why so many things seemed to happen to our main characters.
My big BIG complaint about this book is that a character gets so poorly mistreated in the book. They seriously have all the bad luck. Things seem to be going so well for them and then it all seems to go wrong whilst our other character seemed to have all the luck after having things going really wrong. I feel like one of our characters was cheated and just didn’t get the ending they deserved and I was heartbroken about it. Like, a lot of terrible things happened to a lot of people, but why did all those terrible things have to happen to that one person? I did feel they were conveniently used towards the end to help resolve the story and got cheated out of a better ending. It was nowhere near enough to put me off the book but was just a niggling annoyance.
It Was Love (With Some Gripes) But You Should Totally Read It
Look, I cannot claim to be an expert in the historical genre but I certainly think my first foray into Betts’s writing demonstrates she is a skilled writer who captures an era and who can write realistic characters and an interesting story. I may not have looked at this book twice before but I now know I am very happy to hunt out more books by Betts because she knows how to capture your attention with a book. This book will be a surprise to all who read it and you will enjoy it. I can’t say too much I can say the twists and turns and dramatics of the story are what made this such a captivating read. Some may say the story was melodramatic but I say it was gripping and it had some pretty great romance, too.
About the Author
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.
And don’t forget to visit the rest of the stops on the blog tour below!
Have you read a book which surprised you recently? And do you find yourself reading books which surprise you and finding yourself rating them higher because of it?