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Habits of the House (Love & Inheritance Trilogy #1)

3.18  ·  Rating Details ·  2,238 Ratings  ·  450 Reviews
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 effec
Hardcover, first edition, 320 pages
Published January 15th 2013 by St. Martin's Press (first published 2012)
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Downton Abbey-esque Books
90th out of 508 books — 910 voters
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Books for Downton Abbey Fans
3rd out of 79 books — 43 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Paula Cappa
Feb 27, 2013 Paula Cappa rated it it was ok
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 ...more
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 ...more
Rebecca Huston
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 t ...more
Shawn Thrasher
Feb 12, 2014 Shawn Thrasher rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Roger Pettit
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 simp ...more
Rob Slaven
Mar 07, 2013 Rob Slaven rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 09, 2012 Laurie rated it really liked it
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 marr
Feb 24, 2013 Amy rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Sep 14, 2013 Ivan rated it did not like it
Shelves: giveaway-books
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
Jan 21, 2013 Jessica rated it liked it
Original Review on my Blog

On 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
Jul 31, 2013 QNPoohBear rated it did not like it

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 brai
Rebecca Holland
Feb 07, 2013 Rebecca Holland rated it it was amazing
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
Maggie Boyd
Sep 23, 2013 Maggie Boyd rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
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 circu
Brenda Clough
May 24, 2013 Brenda Clough rated it it was ok
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 l
(Lonestarlibrarian) Keddy Ann Outlaw
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 he ...more
MaryannC.Book Fiend
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.
Chicklit a la Jane Austen: standen, hoe-heurt-het, liefde, rebellie en geld. Lekkere leessnack voor tussendoor.
Jun 05, 2016 Andrea rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Feb 05, 2014 Becky rated it really liked it
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 i ...more
Maya Panika
Mar 26, 2013 Maya Panika rated it it was ok
"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
Jul 08, 2014 Elisabeth rated it really liked it
“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 Countes ...more
Apr 19, 2014 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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?

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 f
May 12, 2014 Mo rated it really liked it
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
Jun 05, 2014 Joanna rated it liked it
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 wi ...more
Oct 24, 2012 Lauren rated it it was ok
Riding that Downton Abbey gravy train!

If I could give this another half star I would, as it is quite funny in a farcical way. The action takes place over two months and the reader is privy to all the goings on - sexual, finanicial, political, intellectual from the family in the big house, to their servants, their(Jewish) banker in Gilders Green, the wealthy Americans visting London etc.

It's Fay Weldon so parts of the novel are sharp and quite amusing but ultimately feels a little phoned in. And
RoseMary Achey
Feb 24, 2013 RoseMary Achey rated it it was ok
I so wanted to like/love this book and recommend it to all my Downton Abbey friends….but this is a book that I will not be recommending (to anyone!). It was similar in many respects to DA; titled family at turn of the century seeking wealthy American to swoop in and fix families financial woes, however the rich character development that we have come to expect with DA was sorely missing.

You wouldn’t call this novel a page turner; in fact I recommend reading if you suffer from insomnia-it will s
Daniel Kukwa
Apr 02, 2014 Daniel Kukwa rated it really liked it
Shelves: general-lit
This is definitely the novel for those missing their "Downton Abbey"/"Upstairs, Downstairs" fix...and it's from the pen of one of the original writers of that latter series. It has all the servant gossip, aristocratic shenanigans, and large cast of broad characters one has come to expect from such an environment...all wrapped up in a very delicious, addictive package. Only a slightly odd tell-don't-show explanatory writing style keeps this novel from complete greatness.
Nov 04, 2012 Michelle rated it it was ok
I won this book in a FR giveaway and was so excited to read it! Unfortunately, this book disappointed me. This book was terribly boring. I could barely finish it. It's one of those books to read if you have trouble falling asleep and need something to put you to sleep. I love historical fiction, but just didn't enjoy this. It's written in a very dry, bland way that I just couldn't get into. Maybe others will enjoy this, but I did not.
Sarah u
In short:
I didn't enjoy this at all, sadly. There was too much telling which gave the book a stiff distance and made the characters impossible to relate to. The head hopping from paragraph to paragraph felt awkward, and the story's pace was far too slow. I really enjoy this period in history and I think there could have been a good story in here somewhere, but it didn't work for me.
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Fay Weldon CBE is an English author, essayist and playwright, whose work has been associated with feminism. In her fiction, Weldon typically portrays contemporary women who find themselves trapped in oppressive situations caused by the patriarchal structure of British society.
More about Fay Weldon...

Other Books in the Series

Love & Inheritance Trilogy (3 books)
  • Long Live the King (Love & Inheritance Trilogy, #2)
  • The New Countess (Love & Inheritance Trilogy, #3)

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