by Molly McGrann

4 stars

This is an advance review of a book that will not be published until 26th March 2015


A high-class brothel in Primrose Hill: the ladies of the house, the prostitutes, once young and beautiful, have grown old. One is suffering from dementia, another dying from cancer. One still plies her trade, though her beauty is long gone. And now the owner of their house is dead and his daughter only now discovering just what her father’s business was and just how rich it made him.

This was a terrific read from start to finish – marred only by another (there are so many) ending that wasn’t an ending but where the narrative simply stopped. And the ending we did get – the explanation for all those deaths detailed at the start – was more than a wee bit daft.
Don’t let it put you off: in every other respect The Ladies of the House is a tremendous page turner, with a plot packed with detail – a host of little incidents that add up to an intriguing and gripping whole. The tale is carried by the characters – each chapter told from the point-of-view of one of eight individuals – and what a richly layered and surprising story it is, and totally fresh, I really don’t think I’ve read anything quite like it before. The characterisation is superb. The only thing that disappointed was that non-ending. If ever a book needed at least one extra chapter to tie up those loose ends, this was it.