Review: Habits of the House by Fay Weldon

Description (from cover):

‘As the London Season of 1899 comes to an end, the world is poised on the brink of profound, irreversible change. In this luxurious–albeit rented–townhouse at No. 17 Belgrave Square, the Earl of Dilberne finds his own world threatened by unaccustomed financial concerns. The ripple effects spread to everyone in the household: Lord Robert, who has gambled unwisely on the stock market and seeks a place in the Cabinet; his unmarried children, Arthur, who keeps a courtesan, and Rosina, who keeps a parrot in her bedroom; Lord Robert’s wife, Isobel, who orders the affairs of the household in Belgrave Square; and Grace, the lady’s maid who orders the life of her mistress.

Lord Robert can see no financial relief to an already mortgaged estate, and, though the Season is over, his thoughts turn to securing a suitable wife (and dowry) for his son. The arrival on the London scene of Minnie, a beautiful heiress whose reputation has been compromised back in Chicago, seems the answer to their prayers–even if her father is a meat baron who would not be received in polite society under less desperate circumstances.

As the award-winning writer of the pilot for the original Upstairs Downstairs, Fay Weldon brings a deserved reputation for magnificent storytelling. With wit and sympathy–and no small measure of mischief–Habits of the House plots the interplay of restraint and desire, manners and morals, reason and instinct.’

My thoughts:

Oh the joys of reading books aimed at the Downton Abbey lovers. This is another book that claims to be a must read for Downton fans and it definitely doesn’t disappoint in that realm. This book takes place some 20 or so odd years before the famed television show and is a little more strict in society norms than on depicted on the show. It is 1899 and the turn of the century brings unease and changes that leave the wealthy members of society scrambling to keep up with the times. The Earl of Dilberne is seriously in financial trouble and something must be done in order to continuing living the life he and his family are accustomed to. Putting their minds together, the Lord and Lady decide that they must marry off one of their children to a wealthy heir or heiress in order to save their estate. It really is their last hope. Of course nothing is as it seems and nothing goes according to plan. Will they be able to secure their wealth or will they soon be filing bankruptcy and becoming the talk of the town?

I really enjoyed this book. The wealth of the upper classes and the lives of their servants are clearly depicted in this story. I love that upstairs, downstairs feeling that the author embraces in this novel. You watch as the wealthy flit about their lives with little thought on spending money. They just do what is expected of them without any thought of the consequences, financially or otherwise. Minnie is probably my favorite character in this story. She was the one I could relate to the best and she seems like a very likeable and well rounded character. The rest of them all have their quirks and things that seemed to annoy me, so Minnie came out as my favorite character.

Apparently, this is the first book in a planned trilogy and I can’t wait to get my hands on the others. I wonder whether the estate will remain in its splendor or will something come up and cause havoc? Fay Weldon is an amazing writer. I read a lot of negative reviews prior to reading this one and I have to say that this book will appeal to some and not to others. I personally enjoyed it immensely and think it’s a perfect read for Downton fans who want a little something similar to the show, but something with a different storyline.  

Overall Rating: 4

Title:  Habits of the House
Author:  Fay Weldon
Series:  Love & Inheritance #1
Publisher:  St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date:  January 15, 2013
Pages:  320
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Get It:  Amazon; Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: This book was selected from the library by myself and I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

11 thoughts on “Review: Habits of the House by Fay Weldon

  1. This was recommended to me on Amazon and I decided to wait for your review before I put it on my wish list! I'm glad it didn't disappoint. It's checked out at all the libraries right now so when I have more free time for reading and it's checked it, I'll be sure to get it. I liked Edith Wharton's Buccaneers as a background to Downton Abbey but it was a bit depressing and she died before finishing it. I'm glad there are other similar books out there.


  2. I really hope you give this one a try. I really liked it. The author does really well with catching the essence of the wealthy at this period in history. A great read!Kimberlee


  3. I have a love/hate relationship with Weldon's novels — they typically creepy me out but I adore them. This sounds a bit like a departure for her so I may end up feeling less creepied out!


  4. I actually loathed this book. It wasn't anything at all like Downton Abbey. It lacks well-written characters, likeable characters, and a believable and entertaining plot. Ugh! I'll have the review up on my blog soon.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s