Corinne’s life might look perfect on the outside, but after three failed IVF attempts it’s her last chance to have a baby. And when she finds a tiny part of a doll house outside her flat, it feels as if it’s a sign.
But as more pieces begin to turn up, Corinne realises that they are far too familiar. Someone knows about the miniature rocking horse and the little doll with its red velvet dress. Someone has been inside her house…
Quite frankly it was impossible to not want to read The Doll House- the title, the cover and the blurb made it sound totally irresistible to me and I was desperate to read it! This was a complete treat; compulsive, bewitching and I thoroughly enjoyed being wrapped up in this twisty, suspenseful, chilling novel.
Today I am thrilled to be able to share a guest post from the author Phoebe Morgan about her inspirations. Then below you can read my review! I hope you enjoy both the guest post and review and highly recommend that you grab a copy of The Doll House when it publishes on 14th September 2017 with HQ Digital.
Who/what inspires you to write?
A guest post by Phoebe Morgan
The great thing about writing is that you really can get inspiration from anywhere. I try to go to a lot of literary events to hear other authors talk about their work and their publication process, as I always find it inspiring to hear stories of persistence and of dreams coming true. When I lived in South London I used to go to an event called Book Slam in Clapham Junction, which was half comedy night, half new writing night, and occasionally there’d be a new author reading from their first book which was always inspiring. I met Eliza Robertson there, author of Who Will Water the Wallflowers, and I always find like-minded people at these kind of events are happy to chat. There are lots in London but further afield too – in libraries, bookshops or at festivals and they aren’t usually expensive.
I have a group of writer friends too who inspire me every day with their ideas, commitment and creativity – some of them write in totally different genres to me, including young adult and children’s, but our goals are the same and to hear their word counts go up is exhilarating! Many of them are now published authors too, which is wonderful and just shows how hard work can pay off.
When I’m just going about my everyday life, I often find myself writing or starting sentences in my head, describing the situation around me and thinking about how the words would look on a page (but if you’re talking to me, I’m listening, promise!) I can see something and immediately want to write about it, or see a personality trait and want to attribute it to a new character, and I always get a little rush of excitement every time I have what I think might be a good idea – or at least not a completely terrible one. I think as a writer it’s important to live fully and have new experiences, so that even if you have a bad time, you can write about it later. When I was working as a journalist I was quite unhappy in the job, but now I find it’s often where my mind goes when I’m thinking of book material, and a lot of Dominic’s scenes in The Doll House are based around my time in a news room. You always have to stay open to things and if they want to come out in your next novel, let them!
Bibliomaniac's Review of The Doll House
This is a very tightly plotted, flawlessly delivered, gripping psychological thriller.
Part of the novel's strength is that we are very quickly drawn into the plot through our connection with the main character, Corinne. Morgan wastes no time forming a bond between the reader and Corinne which means we are quick to invest in the story. Her character is really well crafted. Perhaps due to the sensitive and emotive situation regarding her fertility attempts, her desperate need to become a parent and her constant battle to present a more balanced image to the world when inside she feels so vulnerable, means that the relationship with the reader feels very intimate. And authentic. Once we have shared the pain, trauma and distress of her failed IVF attempts, it is inevitable that by the time Corinne is beginning to feel threatened and watched, we are completely caught up in her situation and emotionally entangled in her predicament. We are hooked.
Morgan shows Corinne's raw vulnerability and really conveys the fragility in her relationship with her partner. Although everything seems perfect from the outside, we see how this is not actually the case at all and how easily things could collapse around them. This nervous energy continues throughout the novel and although I never doubted Corinne, it was easy to understand why many do and her need to know that she is not going mad or inventing things compounds the action of the story.
I also thought Corinne's sister, Ashley, was incredibly well created. Her storyline was as compelling and exciting, with as many twists, turns and revelations and I actually found it very captivating. I might have liked Ashley a little more than Corinne as she could be a little stronger and more independent although Corinne confronts this side of her personality as the story races towards its end. I liked that the Ashley's story complimented and contrasted with Corinne's story and how the two threads began to converge towards the finale. The sisters' perception of each others lives are so wrong and again the author explores the significance of not saying or not asking the right thing and not seeing what is going on in front of your very eyes. Through the sisters, Morgan can explore different responses to trust, intuition and how observant people are or what they choose to see.
This is a complex story which just kept developing as more and more suggestions, wrong conclusions and revelations kept adding layer upon layer of intrigue. It became more and more suspenseful as the novel continued building towards an incredibly dramatic denouement that challenged everything the reader thinks they knew. The short chapters exaggerate this sense of urgency and tension and keep the pages turning.
There are lots of themes explored in this novel. There are the obvious themes like motherhood, parenting, mothers and daughters, marriage and childhood but also there is an exploration of duplicity, lies, secret and history repeating itself. I liked the incorporation of universal themes like grief and lies, but I also liked the more specific observations about marriage and parenting and the contrast between the experience not only of the two sisters but also their parents.
Morgan has a sound understanding of the psychological thriller genre and this is an impressive debut which displays an expert handling of tension and suspense. Morgan takes an eerie premise and develops it into a sophisticated domestic noir that explores a range of universal issues. It is very well structured with well managed multiple narratives; the interaction between the characters and subsequent repercussions is executed with dramatic precision. It's a phenomenally good read. It is confident, assured, emotionally charged and chilling. I can not wait to see what Morgan writes next!
The Doll House is published on 14th September 2017 with HQ Digital.
Phoebe Morgan is an author and editor. She studied English at Leeds University after growing up in the Suffolk countryside. She has previously worked as a journalist and now edits crime and women’s fiction for a publishing house during the day, and writes her own books in the evenings. She lives in London and you can follow her on Twitter @Phoebe_A_Morgan. The Doll House is her debut novel.
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