Habits of the House, Paperback Book
3 out of 5 (1 rating)


A love story, a happy end, a lively attack, haute-couture dresses and haute-cuisine meals: some quotable characters, some agreeable sex, some very witty lines - what else can you want from a novel? - unless perhaps a soupcon of Weldon perception and brains.

Think fin de siecle and it's all here, in HABITS OF THE HOUSE.

Isobel, Countess of Dilberne, is obliged to pair off her handsome, wilful son with a rich and pretty heiress from the Chicago stockyard.

He's all the new internal combustion machines: she's all art.

It's a clash of cultures and principles. Gold mines fail, bankers plot, bad girls flourish, London fog descends, Royalty intervenes, and your heart's in your mouth, hoping for the best for these unlikely lovers in the first in Weldon's Love and Inheritance trilogy.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Head of Zeus
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Historical fiction
  • ISBN: 9781908800435

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I'm not quite sure which style Fay Weldon was aiming for, when writing her <i>Love and Inheritance</i> trilogy, but the result is a sort of smutty <i>Upstairs Downstairs</i> (the original <i>Downton Abbey</i>). The third person narrative mocks the <i>fin de siecle</i> setting - laughing at steam engines and social etiquette in equal measure - and the characters are played like rejects from P.G. Wodehouse. The Earl of Dilberne loses a considerable investment - of his wife's money - in a South African gold mine, and attempts to restore the family fortune by marrying good-natured son Arthur off to an American heiress, Minnie. His daughter Rosina is the stock-in-trade feminist, tall and bluff, who once argued her grandfather into an early grave. They are all very quirky but none too original, while the plot meanders along, establishing the scene, for 300 pages. I just couldn't warm to the style - the characters are not taken seriously enough to care for, and the story isn't eventful enough to carry the comic, slightly sneering tone of the narrative. A resounding 'meh' - I won't be paying for the honour of parts two and three.

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