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 read the wonderful The Chateau on the Lake by Charlotte Brett last year, so when I got the question if I wanted to participate in The House in Quill Court blog tour didn't I hesitate to say yes!
Venita Lovell has lived her whole life in Kent with her family. Her father is often away working in London. When tragedy strike the family and a dark secret is revealed must the whole family relocate to London. This new start is hard on them all, but also offer a new promising future. But, first, must the whole family unit against injustice...
I quite liked Venita, she is a strong character, with a great passion for art and she will not bow down before them that threatens the new life she is trying to rebuild in London with her family. We also have young Kitty, the maid, who traveled with them to London for a new life. Kitty doesn't want to end up like her mother with a lot of children and a hard life. She wants a better life. London may offer up a new chance for her, but it's also a city that can take away happiness in a heartbeat.
I like that we both get to follow Venita and Kitty as they settle in the new city. The difference in their positions is great, but both yearn for a good life. Kitty soon finds happiness when she falls in love and Venita together with her family decides to fulfill a longtime dream of starting up a shop where they can display furniture, art, and fabrics. However, soon dark clouds descend over both Kitty and Venita's life.
And, the darkness that Bett adds to the story is the thing that makes reading this book so excruciating. Bett doesn't shy away from that life is tough in the 1900-century. That especially women have a tough life. To be honest, I did not expect that Bett would turn the story so dark. Especially Kitty gets to face how hard life is for a woman with no prospects when life turns sour.
Still, despite that the story is interesting is it also a bit predictable. Sure, not everything was predictable, I was surprised that Kitty's life seemed to turn out quite good (until of course, the harsh reality intervened). But, the big twist in the end did I see quite early on. And, despite, having a strong beginning and a good ending did I struggle now and then with the middle of the book and especially everything concerning Venita's brother Raffie who I felt needed to wise up and it was frustrating seeing how blind everyone was when it came to his actions. Nevertheless, essentially did I like the book and I recommend it if you like historical fiction with a darker edge.
About the Author
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.
‘Romantic, engaging and hugely satisfying’
Katie Fiorde on The Apothecary's Daughter
‘A highly-recommended novel of love, tragedy and the power of art’
Daily Mail on The Painter's Apprentice
‘Full of passion and drama . . . I was captivated by this moving, heart-warming and beautifully woven story - gripping, atmospheric, eloquently told and full of rich detail’
Kate Furnivall on The Chateau on the Lake