by Fay Weldon

3 stars

“If you liked “Downton Abbey”, you’ll love this!” shouts the sticker on the cover, and, the truth is, I’m probably not the intended reader of this upstairs-downstairs tale. I’m not really a fan of Downton Abbey and I certainly didn’t love this. I have enjoyed Fay Weldon’s work over the years, but Habits of the House is not one of her best.

It’s hardly an original tale – that wouldn’t matter much if it had other things to offer, but the writing is pretty horrible throughout. Some sentences are so strangled they made no sense at all, even after several readings. Worst of all, after such an intricately detailed story, the ending was peculiarly rushed. I felt short-changed.

Which is not to say it’s a bad book. I gave it 3 stars because it’s a nicely readable tale that I did enjoy, once it got going. The characters are a little cardboard, but the story runs along pleasantly enough. It makes no demands. It was perfect bedtime reading. If you’re a big Fay Weldon fan, or even, maybe, a fan of Downton Abbey, you’ll probably enjoy it very much more than I did, and maybe even love it.