Summary and book reviews of Habits of the House by Fay Weldon

Habits of the House

by Fay Weldon

Habits of the House
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jan 2013, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2013, 320 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

From the award-winning novelist and writer of Upstairs Downstairs, the launch of a brilliant new trilogy about what life was really like for masters and servants before the world of Downton Abbey.

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.

As the writer of the pilot episode of 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.

The House Awakes

6.58 a.m. Tuesday, 24th October 1899

IN LATE OCTOBER of the year 1899 a tall, thin, nervy young man ran up the broad stone steps that led to No. 17 Belgrave Square. He seemed agitated. He was without hat or cane, breathless, unattended by staff of any kind, wore office dress – other than that his waistcoat was bright yellow above smart striped stove-pipe trousers – and his moustache had lost its curl in the damp air of the early morning. He seemed both too well-dressed for the tradesman's entrance at the back of the house, yet not quite fit to mount the front steps, leave alone at a run, and especially at such an early hour.

The grand front doors of Belgrave Square belonged to ministers of the Crown, ambassadors of foreign countries, and a sprinkling of titled families. By seven in the morning the back doors would be busy enough with deliveries and the coming and going of kitchen and stable staff, but few approached the great front doors before ten, let ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

The Washington Post

Good fun from start to finish, thanks to breezy storytelling and witty social observations.

Publishers Weekly

[The] whole book feels expository because it lacks high-stakes drama. However, it succeeds as an opening to a new series and should entice enough to make it worth checking out the subsequent installments.

Booklist

Always a ripe target for mockery and disdain, the British aristocracy comes in for a thorough drubbing in Weldon's snarky send-up.

Library Journal

[Weldon] travels well-worn territory here, but she does so effortlessly and adroitly. Fans of Downton Abbey and similar sagas will enjoy exploring the twists and turns of life in the extended Dilberne household.

Kirkus Reviews

Prolific Weldon borrows heavily from both Downton Abbey and Upstairs Downstairs in her first in a series of three novels about Edwardian Britain, all to come out within the next year...If this all sounds more than a little familiar, it is.

The Scotsman

I predict a happy success for the trilogy, in print and on the screen. Julian Fellowes must look to his laurels, and Downton Abbey may find itself running second to 17 Belgrave Square.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Habits of the House, try these:

  • Mothering Sunday jacket

    Mothering Sunday

    by Graham Swift

    Published 2017

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    A luminous, intensely moving tale that begins with a secret lovers' assignation in the spring of 1924, then unfolds to reveal the whole of a remarkable life.

  • Victoria jacket

    Victoria

    by Daisy Goodwin

    Published 2016

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    Drawing on Queen Victoria's diaries, which she first started reading when she was a student at Cambridge University, Daisy Goodwin—creator and writer of the new PBS/Masterpiece drama Victoria and author of the bestselling novels The American Heiress and The Fortune Hunter—brings the young nineteenth-century ...

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Opposite of Everyone
by Joshilyn Jackson

"Quirky and appealing characters, an engaging story, and honest dialogue make this a great book!"
- BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: All We Have Left
    All We Have Left
    by Wendy Mills
    September 11, 2001 is a date that few Americans will ever forget. It was on this day that our ...
  • Book Jacket: A Great Reckoning
    A Great Reckoning
    by Louise Penny
    Canadian author Louise Penny is back with her twelfth entry in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache ...
  • Book Jacket: Homegoing
    Homegoing
    by Yaa Gyasi
    It's all very well to challenge people to be the masters of their own destiny, but when you&#...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Victoria
    by Daisy Goodwin

    Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria's story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit." - Amanda Foreman

    Read Member Reviews

Who Said...

To make a library it takes two volumes and a fire. Two volumes and a fire, and interest. The interest alone will do...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay:
$400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.