Review: Habits of the House
Author: Fay Weldon
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Published: January 13, 2013
Hardcover, 320 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
As the Season of 1899 comes to an end, the world is poised on the brink of profound, irrevocable change. The Earl of Dilberne is facing serious 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 Chicago heiress with a reputation to mend, seems the answer to all their prayers.
Habits of the House by Fay Weldon intrigued me mostly because of my love for Downton Abbey and Upstairs Downstairs. This book focuses on the lives of The Earl of Dilberne and his family as well as the lives of the servants. The Earl learns in the beginning of the novel that he's broke. The family must make allowances to try to recover their loss without losing their position in society.
It took awhile before I was engaged in this book. I had a hard time warming up to the characters and didn't particularly like any of them. They seemed ridiculous really. However I stuck with it, and slowly but surely, I found myself enveloped by the story line. I really liked Minnie the best. She's an American heiress that has the financial potential of saving the estate of the earl. Minnie and her mother definitely made the story more interesting.
Habits of the House is the first book in the Love and Inheritance trilogy. Even though I had a rocky start with this book I will continue with the series. It covers some interesting themes about social standing, responsibilities, and reason during the late 1800's. I'm interested to see the journey that Weldon takes her characters on.