Read Habits of the House by Fay Weldon Online

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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 AbbeyAs 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 effecFrom 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 AbbeyAs 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....

Title : Habits of the House
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781250026620
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 320 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Habits of the House Reviews

  • Paula Cappa
    2019-04-13 19:25

    Expecting Downton Abbey at 17 Belgrave Square is not a reality in Habits of the House. I'm probably one of the few that cannot give this book a good rating. Fay Weldon is certainly an accomplished writer; she's written some twenty successful books and is to be admired for her talents. But the comparison to Downton Abbey is completely exaggerated and misguided for Downton fans. We love Downton because of the luster of the intimate characters, the sweeping romances, and the immediacy of the twists and turns of their lives. And we grew to love them, faults and all. In Habits of the House, the characters are like black and white portraits on a wall and pretty much unlikeable. Lady Rosina is practically a caricature of arrogance. I found Arthur to be so self-absorbed and obnoxious, I really didn't care if he married or not (which is the thrust of the story). Isobel and Robert? Dull as dust and nothing near the endearing elegance and sensitivity of Cora and Robert Grantham at Downton. And the "downstairs" people--thin as the paper in the book. I grant you, the medium is different: TV vs. novel. But here's where the story also fails for me. Weldon's prose seemed terribly wooden. Her flat style of telling us what happened rather than showing us live on the page limited the narrative and created a cold distance. This story will NEVER come close to the quality of Downton Abbey!

  • Misfit
    2019-04-24 03:05

    London, 1899. The Earl of Dilbert finds himself in a huge financial pickle, and the only way out is to get his son Arthur married to a wealthy heiress ASAP. There not being any available prospects on their side of the pond, they reel in Minnie O'Brien, daughter of a wealthy Chicago meat packer. Minnie's got a few skeletons in her closet, and her reputation is so badly damaged in America she's come to England to buy herself better prospects. Oh, and Minnie's mother has a few skeletons of her own (it's a doozy), but then, so does Arthur (he's keeping a mistress on the side and he'd rather marry the mistress and not the heiress).Confused? Don't worry, this one is so filled with fluff and air you'll breeze through it in no time. Large font, generous spacing and extremely short chapters make these pages fly by, and if the next two in this trilogy are like this I'd guess they could have been packed into one largish volume instead of the three being published. But then that cuts into sales...I am not familiar with this author, but according to the blurb she's written quite a few other books, along with being a playwright and screenwriter (I smell a mini-series coming off of this). My guess (and it's only a guess), is that this isn't one of those novels that's been banging around in the author's head begging to be put to pen and paper, instead perhaps the publishers noticed how popular Downton Abbey is and sought out Weldon with a planned trilogy? Hmmm? While not a bad book by any means, this one was just too light and airy and filled with empty-headed, shallow, self-serving characters. There wasn't one to root for anywhere, not even Isobel's long-suffering maid Grace. Still, I suspect this trilogy will be a huge hit for those looking for a Downton Abbey fix.

  • Rebecca Huston
    2019-04-13 02:18

    I hated this book, from beginning to end. Story of an earl and his family fallen on hard times when they loose everything on a bad investment. Now they need to marry the son off to a rich heiress as soon as possible. Enter Minnie, a young heiress who isn't at all innocent, and with manners that shock London society. Then there's the servants, all backbiting, and scarcely loyal to anyone. Riddled with anachronisms, and bad writing, I found this to be a dreadful novel, and by the end I wanted to throw it through the wall. I can't believe this author is well-acclaimed, this is more like a parody than anything else, and comes across as a blatant rip-off of Downton Abbey. Not recommended at all, and I am certainly not going to read the two sequels. For the longer review, please go here:http://www.epinions.com/review/Fay_We...

  • Laurie
    2019-04-26 23:03

    Ever since reading (and watching the TV series) ‘The Forsyte Saga’ in my teens I’ve had a passion for late Victorian/Edwardian British stories. I was very excited to receive a copy of ‘Habits of the House’ set in 1899. The story revolves around the household of the Earl of Dilberne. He himself is deeply in debt, from both business ventures gone badly and from trying to keep up with his friend, the spendthrift Price of Wales; his wife, Isobel, daughter of a tradesman who brought money to the marriage, spends on clothing and dinners. His daughter, Rosina, spends her time going to lectures of the leftist kind and despises the moneyed class while enjoying the advantages it offers. His son and heir Arthur cares nothing for business or politics, freely spending on clothing, his mistress, and his steam powered automobiles. When the latest venture, a gold mine in Africa, is taken and flooded by the Boers, bankruptcy looms. The earl and his lady’s reaction to this is that their children (in their 20s) must marry for money. Everyone has their own opinion on how this should be accomplished, including the staff of servants who have a surprising influence on the lives of their employers. What follows is a tangled web of greed, bigotry, and lies. There are no blameless characters here, but neither are there any monsters. These are all just flawed human beings, most of whom are fairly decent at heart. They are muddling through their lives, regretting their pasts, and trying to puzzle out what kind of future the want. These are not particularly deep characters; they are rather sketchy. I enjoyed the book. Despite the unusual layout – a lot of very short chapters, each devoted to a character’s actions in a short period of time- sometimes as little as an hour- it reads fast. The entire book takes place over the span of a little less than two months- but the first 86 pages is devoted to a single day. At the beginning I did have trouble at times figuring out which character was which. There is enough description to set the reader firmly in the era. Standing outside of the time, the author skewers the manners and prejudices of the time. Is it great literature? No. Is it good enough that I’ll be seeking out the next two volumes? Yes.

  • Shawn Thrasher
    2019-04-16 21:05

    Is this trash? Probably so. I can't think of much redeeming value here. It will most likely slip through my brain like water through a sieve, leaving not much behind. But it was an incredibly enjoyable few hours of reading, and that says something. Hurray for trash!Judith Krantz and John Jakes and Jackie Collins visit Downton Abbey; Habits of the House is injected with historical sex and scandal. As a novel, Habits of the House is simply written, with short, punchy sentences. The characters are like little prizes in the Christmas cake; as you eat your way through the deliciousness, you keep finding new characters to read about. No one is quite despicable enough to hate - or quite likable enough to sympathize with. Everyone is a hero, and everyone is sort of a douchebag. The descriptions of clothes and parties and food and the lives of servants are terrifically fun. The Prince of Wales is a bloated, lecherous pig who controls every bit of society - which is probably how it really was, both despised and courted (like all princes). Weldon adds historical touches and figures as sort of icing, to add some credibility to the story, as all good historical fiction writers do. I'm sure you've read historical fiction where the cardboard characters march out onto the page one after the other. Weldon, however, doesn't do this to us. Weldon adds enough flavor and verve, vim and vigor to make this a really rollicking romp!

  • MaryannC.Book Fiend
    2019-04-02 19:22

    I liked this tremendously. I can understand the mixed reviews on this being on the coat tails of Downtown Abbey, but afterall Fay Weldon was one of the frontrunners to help write the pilot for Upstairs Downstairs. Anyhow, I enjoyed the author's wit and the social snobbery of this story. I didnt take it seriously, it was just a fun look into the lives and dilemnas of the rich.

  • Roger Pettit
    2019-03-28 19:16

    A sticker attached to the dust jacket of this novel states: "If you liked "Downton Abbey", you'll love this!". Well, not in my case, I fear. I love the TV drama - but "Habits of the House" is a very disappointing novel. It is facile and undemanding and nothing like what I was expecting, given the reputation of its author, Fay Weldon, for writing intelligent fiction of a feminist nature. Indeed, the writing style is sometimes so dull and plodding, the characterisation is so stereotypical and simplistic and the plot is so mundane that, quite frankly, I have my doubts that Fay Weldon actually wrote the book herself!The story is set in London in the last few months of 1899. This is a time of strife in South Africa, the beginnings of social upheaval in England and of a shortage of money generally as the world economy deteriorates. All of these issues are to the fore in this Upstairs Downstairs-type story of love, politics and finance amongst the upper classes of the time. Robert, the Earl of Dilberne, is a politician and gambler. When the investments on which his family are heavily dependent for their wealth begin to fail because of the political situation in South Africa, his wife, Lady Isobel, tries to marry off their son, Arthur, who is a Viscount, to a wealthy Irish-American heiress who is visiting London with her mother from their home in Chicago. Arthur has a paid mistress in Mayfair, Flora, who, unbeknown to him, previously had a relationship with his father. Added to this mix are Mr Baum, a financier who advises Robert on his investments and to whom Robert owes a considerable amount of money; Rosina, Arthur's independent and strong-willed sister whose political views are very different from those of her father; and the Prince of Wales, who is a frequent visitor to 17 Belgrave Square, the Dilberne home in London. "Habits of the House" is essentially a comedy of manners. The problem is it's not a very good one. Stereotypes abound. The English aristocracy are depicted as defensive, prickly and insincere. The wealthy Americans are portrayed as brash, impertinent and in awe of England and its upper classes; and the servants are, by and large, loyal and dutiful. The daughter of the house (Rosina) is a free spirit, who doesn't play the game. Where have we seen all this before? Well, in the TV series "Upstairs Downstairs" - and in many other films and novels about such people whose plots are set in much the same era. It's all very unoriginal and unchallenging. The writing is little better. It's light and easy for the most part, but it doesn't enthuse one to read further. And it can be infelicitous in places. Here is an example of that (from page 280): "She [Rosina] went to her wardrobe and looked through her clothes. Why had she felt it so impossible to choose her own, but that she must instead rely on someone else to do it? Perhaps because thus she had been making Grace responsible for her very looks?". The plot itself is an inconsequential soufflé. Absolutely nothing leaps off the page in a book that can best be summed up by the sentences that end the first paragraph on page 199 of the edition that I have just read: "Conversation remained a little stiff. Dull, dull, dull.".The sub-editing of the book is sloppy, particularly in the latter half. There are numerous typos and other errors of that sort. One of the most notable occurs in the sub-heading to the chapter headed "Rosina Challenges Her Mother" on page 274. Most of the chapters in the book have sub-headings that state the time and the day on which the action that is about to be described actually takes place. In this instance, "11 a.m. Sunday, 3rd December 1899" should read "11 p.m. Sunday, 3rd December 1899". An error of that sort can confuse a reader who is being encouraged by sub-headings to pay particular attention to the chronology of the events depicted. And I lost count of the number of occasions in the story when the possessive apostrophe is positioned incorrectly in the case of a plural noun!"Habits of the House" is apparently the first novel of a projected trilogy. I don't think I shall bother with the subsequent books. 4/10.

  • Diana
    2019-03-30 00:00

    Book received from Goodreads Giveaways. I have had this book for awhile now and I've tried to read it several times. I found the audiobook at my library and decided to give it a chance. I think it is much better listened to than read. I gave it two stars due to how many times I've picked it up and had to put it down. It is the first in a series but I don't believe I'll be reading/listening to the rest. I will admit the parts focusing on the servants of the house are much more interesting than the main family. If you're missing Downton Abbey give it a shot.

  • Rob Slaven
    2019-04-17 19:59

    I received this book as part of the GoodReads FirstReads program and it was one that I was fairly giddy to have won. As a fan of historical fiction generally and "Upstairs Downstairs" specifically I was more than ready to enjoy this one.On the good side the book gives us a wonderfully open portrayal of the behavior of the landed class at the time. No secret is too dark, no behavior too perverse to be placed on display. We're introduced to some of the notable personages of the time and the scene is littered with tidbits of historical amusement from the Boer Wars to steam powered autos. Weldon also treats us to a myriad of period vernacular that causes us Midwestern types to scramble for our dictionaries. If nothing else it's worth reading just for the language. Organizationally the book's short (almost tiny) chapters are each date-headed and titled helping the reader keep track of a sometimes tangled chronology. This is the sort of book you can take in small bites if you need to and come back without losing much of the thread of the narrative.On the other side, there's just not quite as much story as one would expect from a period piece. Readers who anticipate a Classical level of detail from this novel are bound to be disappointed. It is a novel very much boiled down to its nucleus, a traveling sideshow rather than a museum piece. Additionally, while our author uses some amusing bits of language they do at times seem forced and inconsistently timed. Her characters whip out a colorful phrase about every 20 pages and then revert to current standard English until it is once again time to find an appropriate period idiom to insert. As the current vernacular so aptly puts it, "go big or go home"; if your characters drawl along in Cockney rhyming slang in chapter 1 then they'd best do so for the duration lest purists like me complain about it in online reviews.To summarize, Weldon's novel is a cute period piece but it's a period piece written for the masses. Bibliophiles who have come to this novel as a modern break from perusing Austen would be advised to understand that this is a novel written for an audience less accustomed to the complexities of Classical literature. Readers are also advised to take a page of notes on the dramatis personae as they are introduced. Personally I had some difficulty sorting out the rather homogeneous nomenclature of the various characters involved.

  • QNPoohBear
    2019-04-05 22:05

    This story claims to be for fans of Downton Abbey and Upstairs Downstairs but is hardly comparable. It made me realize why I fell in love with Downton Abbey in the first place - the well-drawn characters that made me care for them. Sadly, this book is lacking in appealing characters. They are all cardboard stock characters that embody every single bad cliche of the late Victorian era. They are all selfish and unappealing. At first I liked Rosina, but she proved to be petty and just as fluff brained as the rest of the family. I did like Minnie and I cared about what happened to her but she appears cold at times. The characters are obsessed with s-e-x. They think about it, talk about it and do it all the time. (There's a shocking scene with Arthur, Flora and another man.) The downstairs characters aren't fleshed out enough to care anything about. They flit around in the background, aside from Grace, who appears as a minor character. The story is told from first person limited jumping between the thoughts of each character not giving the reader time to come to know any of them well. The plot is ridiculous and ends abruptly with a twist that didn't fit what had just happened in the previous chapter. There are some inaccuracies : the characters are referred to as gentry when they are actually aristocrats and I think there are some other mistakes, not to mention the inaccurate characters. I think Mrs. O'Brien was supposed to be modeled after popular portrayals of Molly Brown but Americans were actually more stuffy than their British counterparts. Needless to say, I just didn't enjoy this novel at all and won't be reading the other two in the series. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone who claims to enjoy well-written stories.

  • Amy
    2019-04-24 19:19

    Fans of Downton Abbey who find they are missing the drama of the television series will be delighted to pick up Faye Weldon’s novel, Habits of the House. Set in London at the end of the 1899 Season, the novel revolves around the happenings at 17 Belgrave Square. The staff, used to being back in the country, is in an uproar, and the family, the Earl of Dilberne, his Lordship Robert, Lady Isobel and their two grown children Rosina and Arthur, seem to be facing financial ruin. Robert’s gambling and friendship with the unscrupulous Prince of Wales has lead to near bankruptcy. The appearance of Minnie O’Brien, a very wealthy American, and her loud, larger than life mother Tessa, just might be the answer to their problems, if a successful match between Arthur and Minnie can be secured. While the social mores of the time are changing, both the family and the help find that it is not always easy to give up the habits and customs of the past, and often chafe at the process. Weldon, one of the script writers for the original Upstairs Downstairs, has a keen eye for storytelling, and fills the plot with many surprising twists and turns. Filled with period detail and a deep understanding of the issues of class and society at the brink of change, Habits of the House is a delightful and thought provoking look at late Victorian life. The first in a trilogy, Habits of the House will have readers eagerly awaiting Weldon’s next installment.

  • Brenda Clough
    2019-04-13 02:22

    If I may use writer terminology: A great, quite vast deal of telling in this book, and not a lot of showing. Many conversations are the author telling us what Rosina said, rather than letting Rosina come on stage and say it. This creates a distancing effect which is uncongenial. As a result it is difficult to care about the characters. Nor does it help that there is not a great deal of action; the pace can best be described as glacial. All the action that does occur is of the most quotidian. I long for alien bombardment with death rays, or camo-clad commandos attacking the breakfast room with AKs and flamethrowers, or a character from Charles Dickens to come barging in being colorful and stealing the sterling-silver epergne off the dining table.If you are new to the author, this is not the book to start on. This feels like it was written very fast, possibly under deadline. A first draft, sent to press too soon? A trunk novel, resurrected? In any case, the time is out of joint with this work.

  • Tracey
    2019-03-27 03:28

    a nice read

  • Ivan
    2019-03-28 19:29

    I won this book in a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway Contest and I was really excited when I heard that I won. Like most people, I was drawn to this book with its comparisons to Downton Abbey. Sadly this book was dreadful and a drag to read. I got about 3/4 through it before just skimming to the end and going "whyyyyyyy!". I really thought it was going to pick up and get interesting. So here is the rundown on my thoughts:I look at the cover and I think, "Hmmm..a Period Piece story-line so it must be interesting and drama filled" Then I open the pages and begin to read. After a few pages or chapters it is revealed the main purpose of this whole book. The family of 4 has lost almost all of its money due to the dads poor decision making and putting it all in one place. So one of the children have to get married basically for money. The daughter is super pro women's rights and flat out refuses. The son doesn't want to, but will do it anyway. So they search for a wife for him and pop comes this American girl who will give him her money in exchange for a title or whatever. At this point I'm thinking, "Ok this story-line was played before. It is feeling repetitive and nothing is really truly unique after reading over 100 pages. Yawn, but I will try to pull through! Something exciting should happen right?! WRONG!"Fast forward to the chapter around page 150 and (view spoiler)[ this dreadful scene where the son is caught with his prostitute type girl being with another man. so the man and him give each other these odd looks and bam! they basically rape her in this odd aggressive 3-way. Then they make this pact kind of thing where they decide to share the prostitute with future possible 3-way sex (hide spoiler)] Plus the fact that Penises are referred to as "doodles" WTF! Really? Really? Boy I was so turned off when I read that chapter. and let me further explain, each chapter title basically spoils most of the chapter because it is gonna tell you flat out what is gonna happen. It's like saying, "The Chapter where Ivan dies" or some crap like that.Good gracious the writing is horrible and such a slump to pull through. The characters are not attractive and basically everyone has a hidden agenda, talks crap, or just boring. The author tries to pull this whole "drama upstairs and downstairs" bullcrap and I don't buy it. There is not enough meat or true drama to get you through this. One flat story-line and not enough conversations. Full of lengthy descriptions and pointless chapters. I don't care how hard of a British period story fan you are, don't grab this. 1.5 out of 5

  • Jessica
    2019-04-27 03:00

    Original Review on my BlogOn the cover of a ‘real’ edition of this book (I had the eBook version), a stamp says, “If you like Downton Abbey, you’ll love this!” No one really loves Downton Abbey, we just love to hate the characters and their horribly rich lives, just as I do with this novel. It’s 1899 and the Earl of Dilberne is about to receive information that could disrupt and ruin his financial stability as one of the rich and power, if only someone would answer the goddamn door. It’s within the first three (very short) chapters that you realize, even the servants are stuck up. You can’t help but shout, “Just go get the friggin door already!” and begin a long and passionate hatred towards these ridiculous characters. Yet hating a character (or the entire cast of characters) doesn’t necessarily mean you hate the book. Habits of the House has had me rubbing my temples at the absurdity of what is talked about and laughing out loud at the way people behave. But then again, it is 1899 London, England, when Women’s Suffrage is considered as ridiculous as a (very successful) Jew calling at the front door at 7am (which is only where the noble guests are received, and even then it’s at a decent time, such as 11am or later). The intertwining narrative, as told by a range of characters from a Lady’s waiting maid to the Lady herself, follows the beginning descent of the Dilberne family into bankruptcy. The hidden agendas that seem to be embedded into each member of the household become the force that keeps the story alive and induces the proper amount of scandals for this period piece. Though Downton Abbey has a handful of characters that endeared themselves to me, Habits of the House had but two: Minnie O’Brien and Tessa O’Brien, the daughter and wife, respectively, of a meat baron in Chicago. Though they are American, a dreadful thing to be at this point in time in London, they manage to be more human than any other character.The ending of the book was able to tie up loose ends without drawing the strings too tight. I was satisfied enough to hold out for the sequel and interested enough to want to read the sequel, as this will be a trilogy. As for recommendations, if you’re a Downton Abbey lover, get ready for more pompous characters that you love to hate and scandalous secrets you’d love to blurt out to the characters themselves.

  • Rebecca Holland
    2019-04-23 00:59

    For an American who has grown up and stuck traditionally to American TV and Books, unless forced to look elsewhere (like when I was in school), British TV and novels produced by Brits like Fay Weldon who is witty and tell-it-like-it-is are FOREIGN.But after a month of diving into everything I could about a certain British television program that has captured the hearts of many, I realized I was ready for more.And Fay Weldon delivers more with Habits of the House.In Habits of the House, Weldon is truly a captivating story-teller as she fills our hearts with a mixture of emotions with the spinning of her web, I mean pen.There's Lord Robert - a father, a husband and someone who seeks higher up for himself -even if that means mixing with the lives of his children. Isobel, his wife, keeps their home together (and Isobel's maid, Grace keeps her together). But then there are their children, Arthur who is unmarried and keeps a courtesan (whispering - that is proper English terms for hooker), and Rosina, also unmarried, who keeps a parrot in her room.Weldon brings about the properness of the life of being a Lord or a Lady and intertwines it with regularness of being a Dad, and his family.Want something different? Go for it! Get a copy of Weldon's book!

  • Maggie Boyd
    2019-03-29 00:29

    A lot of books right now are claiming to be for fans of Downton Abbey. This one, written by a writer for Upstairs, Downstairs really is. The Earl of Dilberne is facing serious financial concerns. Mr. Baum, his Jewish financial adviser, is ready to throw in the towel. Not only has he lent Dilberne a great deal of money, only to see the man fritter it away, he is tired of the politely covered scorn he receives at the man's hands. It is especially galling that Baum can not make them see their circumstances. To Lady Isobel, who rose from being the illegitimate child of a coal baron to being a countess and valued society hostess, the only course seems to be marry off their children. That will cut the expenses accrued by daughter Rosina and gain them a dowry through son Arthur. American heiress Minnie is seen as the solution to all their problems - but fate is rarely that kind. Certainly an enjoyable read and definitely written along the style of Downton. I enjoyed the look at staff - the snobby maid, the nasty little piece of work that is the coachman, the over excitable cook. The upstairs folk are fun too, especially young Arthur whom I pictured as looking a lot like Mathew from Downton.

  • (Lonestarlibrarian) Keddy Ann Outlaw
    2019-04-01 01:11

    An awesome dysfunctional upper class British family drama (1899), mostly "upstairs" but with a few "downstairs" elements. And so, of course, its cover bears a quip from a review favorably recommending this to Downton Abbey fans, and I couldn't agree more. Better yet, this book is the first in a trilogy! Can't wait for the next book. Will the Earl of Dilberne's fianances continue their upswing motion after a disastrous dip near homelessness? Will the Earl's son Arthur successfully wed American heiress Minnie? Will his thought-to-be-overly-intellectual sister Rosina ever find love? Those are just some of the questions I am left with, but will have to sit tight until Long Live The King (book 2) and The New Countess (book 3) are released.

  • Mo
    2019-04-03 02:06

    This novel provides a peek inside the lives of an aristocratic family for two months in late 1899. The driving force behind the story is the financial predicament in which the Earl of Dilberne finds himself… the actions of all of the characters revolve around that. If you don’t like reading about the late Victorian era, I don’t think you’ll find much here to be of interest. The most enjoyable part of the story is in all of the period details. I’m still trying to find a picture of an Arnold Jehu car!This is just the type of thing that I thoroughly enjoy. I’ll seek out the other two books in the series.

  • Harmke
    2019-04-03 22:16

    Chicklit a la Jane Austen: standen, hoe-heurt-het, liefde, rebellie en geld. Lekkere leessnack voor tussendoor.

  • Jon
    2019-04-10 18:59

    A number of Goodreads reviewers marked this one down because it wasn't enough like Downton Abbey or Upstairs Downstairs (Weldon in fact wrote the first episode of UD). They were probably misled by the cover descriptions which invited them to expect just that. But I think the TV shows were essentially high-class soap operas, while this is more a social satire somewhere on the continuum between Trollope and Wodehouse, maybe a little closer to Wodehouse. Nobody is completely admirable; everybody has at least one secret; financial ruin, public humiliation, and lost love threaten; comic and not-so-comic misunderstandings abound; but everything turns out miraculously perfect in the end. The whole book has the arch tone of Rosalind in As You Like It, "Men have died from time to time, and worms have eaten them, but not for love." I very much look forward to the second in the trilogy.

  • Andrea
    2019-03-29 22:22

    I really didn't like this book. I probably wouldn't have finished it, except that it's the only audiobook I brought on a weekend trip, and I didn't want channel surf on the radio. In the entire ensemble cast, there wasn't a single character who wasn't petty, selfish, short-sighted, arrogant, or spiteful, and sometimes all of these things at once. I can understand wanting to portray realistic, flawed characters, but to make them relateable, they can't be wholly irredeemable, and these characters mostly were. At their best, some were occasionally inoffensive; when that's the best you can say about a person, it's pretty damning.Mechanically, the writing mostly wasn't bad, but there were some long-winded expository moments. There were also some things repeated several times from different characters' points of view, which became repetitive, since no new information or insight was being provided. Additionally, there was some occasional weirdness where it wasn't entirely clear whether a character was speaking aloud, or simply thinking something; I suspect this may have been an issue with the audiobook reader, more than the text, but without seeing it, I can't be sure. Overall though, I was bored and disliked everyone. Would not recommend.

  • Susan Johnson
    2019-04-11 03:15

    3.5 starsThis book was written to join in on the Downtown Abbey/Upstairs, Downstairs popularity. It's the first book in a planned trilogy and, I suspect, the foundation for a TV series. It tells the story of the Earl of Dilberne's family and their servants. A note of caution though- the only servant you really get to know is ladies maid, Grace.The family is facing financial hardship and must do something. As they dither about this, their plan seems to be to continue spending as they always have. The son has huge tailor debts, drives a steam car and keeps a mistress. The daughter takes up any weird cause and donates money to them. The mother throws lavish parties. The father gambles and drinks with the Prince of Wales. Business as usual.The Earl decides their only real asset is their children marrying money. So the son courts an American heiress who comes from Chicago's meat packing industry and has a troubled past. Their daughter doesn't seem to be a prize in the marriage market.This will probably make an interesting miniseries as there are several interesting story lines. That's what it seems like it's intended to do. As a book, it's just not great.

  • Becky
    2019-04-02 22:29

    British novelist Fay Weldon won the Writers' Guild Award for writing the pilot of Upstairs Downstairs. She returns to British aristocracy in her trilogy of novels that starts with Habits of the House. The story showcases Lord Robert Dilberne and his wife, Isobel, of f No. 17 Belgrave Square in London. Their world is threatened by Lord Robert's massive gambling debts and ever increasing debts of his son, Arthur and wife Isobel. No one can seem to get a handle on their pocketbooks! As his estate is mortgaged to the hilt, he and his wife turn to his son, Arthur, to secure a suitable albeit rich wife to help save the estate. In comes Minnie O'Brien, the daughter of a Chicago stockyards baron and his colorful wife, Tessa. While the book sometimes drags, it is typical British literature packed with snobbish aristocrats and sideways scandals. Chapters are short and keep the story moving. Of course, there are the ever present hints of royalty. I liked Weldon's writing and plan to read the next installment, Long Live the King. If you like fiction that focuses on the Brits and their numerous quirks, this is for you.

  • Maya Panika
    2019-04-17 21:11

    "If you liked "Downton Abbey", you'll love this!" says the sticker on the cover, and, 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 the author’s 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, exactly, it's a perfectly readable tale. 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.

  • Elisabeth
    2019-04-24 21:07

    “Habits of the House” is the first of the love and inheritance trilogy. Set in the closing months on 1899 and with the Boer war raging in South Africa, the Earl and Countess of Dilberne are at home in their London residence and spending (and owing) money as if it is going out of fashion. Then the news comes that one of the Gold mines that the Earl has an interest has been flooded deliberately by the Boers and the family suddenly faces financial ruin. The only possible solution is for the Countess to find an American heiress for the eldest son to marry but this could be easier said than done. How will the fortunes of the Dilberne dynasty fair and will their good name be saved?I found this book an addictive read and fans of Upstairs Downstairs and Downton Abbey will love this book.It wasn’t a challenging read but even so I really enjoyed it as something light and easy to quickly read. I will definitely be reading the next 2 books in the series.

  • David
    2019-04-09 01:24

    A potent, savvy, jaded and dark version of DOWNTON ABBEY, or closer still, UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS, this novel is unflinching in its glare of servants and their betters and is set in 1899 London. I don't read many books in this vein so I found it to be very entertaining and refreshing. I'm not sure why the rating score is so low for it on Goodreads. Many top-notch reviewers are quoted in blurbs on the jacket and all are accurate. Perhaps it's the photo of the woman in a Regency gown on the cover? It's been decades since I've read Weldon and I'm sure not going to wait that long again. Top notch novel.

  • Cathleen
    2019-04-07 03:22

    I finished the first disc and realized that not only could I not distinguish many of the characters or effectively summarize the plot developments but that I simply didn't care. Table-setting is an important element in any novel, especially historical ones, and even more so when it is the first of a projected trilogy. However, the author seemed so enamored with her own world that she neglected to engage the reader with an actual story.audiobook note: Considering Katherine Kellgren is one of my favorite narrators, it is especially telling that not even the lure of listening to her was enough to tempt me to continue.

  • Sorento62
    2019-03-28 20:00

    The beginning of this book is mostly narration, very little dialogue. A snore, literally -- I slept through most of the first part of the audio CD while my husband was driving. So, lots of telling rather than action or dialogue -- and at first the topic is mostly finances.Later on when the subject turns to marriage prospects and sex, it was much more interesting. I also liked having another window on British society around 1900, to supplement Downton Abbey and my recent reading of The Picture of Dorian Gray. I liked it, but it's unlikely I will seek out anything else by the same author.

  • Joanna
    2019-04-04 20:03

    Like other reviewers I didn't really like most of the characters in this book. Their lifestyle is interesting and sometimes horrible according to our standards today. As for the comparison to Downton Abbey and even Upstairs Downstairs I at least like most of the characters on both shows. And they are certainly more human and better humanitarians - some of the time anyway. Except for the servants taking in little Lily I don't think anyone did anything nice. I hope Lily grows with the series. I will probably read the other two books and hope the characters mature and mellow a bit.