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The Hourglass Factory

3.28  ·  Rating details ·  1,889 ratings  ·  270 reviews
1912 and London is in turmoil...

The suffragette movement is reaching fever pitch but for broke Fleet Street tomboy Frankie George, just getting by in the cut-throat world of newspapers is hard enough. Sent to interview trapeze artist Ebony Diamond, Frankie finds herself fascinated by the tightly laced acrobat and follows her across London to a Mayfair corset shop that hide
Paperback, 504 pages
Published January 15th 2015 by Simon & Schuster Ltd (first published January 1st 2015)
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Lizzie I personally thought it was worth finishing. The chapters are pretty small (I think the largest one I counted was... 26 pages long) and once you push …moreI personally thought it was worth finishing. The chapters are pretty small (I think the largest one I counted was... 26 pages long) and once you push through the initial set up, you'll be able to power through fairly easily and the story does start picking up speed around halfway through.(less)

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Average rating 3.28  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,889 ratings  ·  270 reviews

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Stef Rozitis
Wow there have been some good books coming out in 2015 and this one was breathtaking!!!!!

If you like history that is well-researched, relatable characters that are complex a believable yet unlikable villain and complex understandings of issues woven together with fast-paced plot, only the barest hint of maybe they are just friends...I think. Then I heartily recommend this almost perfect book.

It will broaden your mind as it takes you through lushly coloured (but not tiresomely over-e
Jan 22, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime-mystery
This has taken me over a month to read, it was so hard going. The worst of it is, though, that there is nothing i can point to to say ‘this was bad’, but at the same time, not much i can point to to say ‘this was good’. It wasn’t so exciting or engrossing that i wanted to pick it up to keep reading, but it wasn’t so bad that i just wanted to give up altogether. I wanted to have read it, i just didn’t want to read it. And in some ways, that’s worse than just disliking a book enough to not finish ...more
Jun 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
2 stars might be harsh. It's an interesting time period (1914 London) and concept (murder mystery wrapped in women's suffrage movement); but it was unnecessarily long and complicated, filled with characters who were never fully developed. So much potential, unrealized. ...more
Nov 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourite, 2015
From time to time you come across a book that is a real gem. A book that firstly you have a good feeling about and secondly, this good feeling turns out to be right. A book where everything fits together perfectly: characters, background, plot, writing style... And I'm happy to report that "The Hourglass Factory" is such a book. It's a debut novel by Lucy Ribchester, and it is an awesome debut, I wouldn't say that it is her first book as it's written in such a confident, clever, sharp writing st ...more
Sep 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is historical fiction with a mystery and lots of action - I really liked it.

Set in 1912 in London Frankie George is an up and coming reporter trying to make her way in a man's world. She is tasked with getting a profile of suffragettes, specifically Ebony Diamond a trapeze artist who is causing havoc.

She's a bit resentful of this until Ebony goes missing and it all gets a bit more dangerous - two people have been murdered and Ebony is in danger.

With the help of unlikely allies Frankie delve
Shaz Goodwin
Jan 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
We’re not long into 2015 but I know this is going to be on my top reads this year. My review won’t do The Hourglass Factory justice!

I’ve always been interested in the Suffragettes since doing a project on Emmeline Pankhurst at school and The Hourglass Factory gives this life. One scene in the dock made an impression on me. How archaic it all seems through the eyes of today …

Travelling around with Frankie on foot gave me plenty of opportunities to visualise society and how it may have been. The s
Jan 25, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, crime
Alright, by 'read' I mean 'read halfway through, got really bored and read the last chapter'. In places, the plot moves quickly; in other places, it sludges along like treacle. I think my problem was really that I didn't feel any sort of connection to the characters. Ebony Diamond... meh. Frankie... meh with a side of irritating. Primrose... yeah, liked him well enough. Primrose's prat boss... can't remember his name. Twinkle... ugh and meh in equal quantities.
Not for me, but then this really is
May 15, 2021 rated it liked it
2.5 stars. I am sad to say this one disappointed me 😔

The concept, the time period, and the historical events were all fascinating - I loved the suffragette movement tied with macabre circus elements, but it fell very flat.

The characters felt very one-dimensional to me - we were shown their personalities and past histories through their dialogue, rather than ever genuinely feeling them. I don’t know how to best describe the writing and pacing of this book, other than a slow-paced Scooby Doo epi
Renita D'Silva
Aug 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Vivid with a strong sense of place
Mar 11, 2015 rated it it was ok
Disappointing. I was expecting more circus antics. I enjoyed lots of the characters but the most interesting ones spent most of the book absent or dead.I can't comment on the historic accuracy but the scientific fact-checking left a lot to be desired, especially in regards to nitrocellulose. To put on my chemist hat for a moment.(view spoiler) ...more
Jun 15, 2019 rated it liked it
This book was just ok, felt it was dragged out a bit with unnecessary detail, it could have been much better I loved the idea but just felt it lacked something.
Jan 09, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015-releases
“Do you think I will be any better off with the voices of ten thousand Tory-voting well-to-do women representing my opinions than I am with the voices of men?”

When I picked The Hourglass Factory off my shelf (thank you tbr jar!), I was excited, and also a little sceptical. At the best of times I find the depiction of suffragettes okay, and at the worst I find it way too focused on the successes of well-off white women with rich husbands. But this book took me by surprise with some of the nuances
Anna Roberts
Dec 10, 2014 rated it it was ok
Frankie George is sent by her newspaper for her first proper piece – a profile of suffragette-trapeze artist Ebony Diamond. But while she’s on the trail, Ebony lashes out at her then disappears mysteriously in the middle of her performance. Frankie gains a snake-charmer and dubious errand boy as sidekicks along the way as well as meeting a vast variety of characters, and quest to find Miss Diamond uncovers plots and secrets that she would never have dreamt of.

I really, really, wanted to really
Jan 07, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
DNF. Found it hard going. Never wanted to pick it up again and keep reading. Why?

"Ebony Diamond had waited in the dark her wrists bound tight as shoelaces." As I tried to picture this, I thought she was tied up. So while reading, you make a picture in your mind of what you are experiencing, but turns out I was wrong.

"...keep your arms in our you'll lose one of them...once at the Crystal Palace a trapeze artist had landed so sharply on a falling jolt that part of his brain seeped out through his
Allie Riley
Oct 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
A very enjoyable read. Well written, great characters and an exciting plot with plenty of twists and turns. I found the historical notes at the end fascinating - it was interesting to see how much of the story was based on fact. I look forward to more from this writer.
Jan 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Suffragettes, Emily Pankhurst, a mysterious hourglass factory, a female roving reporter and the world of the circus freaks…oh and a murderous plot too

Story in a nutshell

1912 and London is in turmoil…the suffragette movement is alive and well and so is the strange world behind the doors of the hourglass factory.

Frankie George is trying to get by in the male dominated world of the newspapers. Fascinated by the world of the circus and the trapeze artist Ebony Diamond, she wants to know more about h
Huw Rhys
Mar 02, 2015 rated it it was ok
The cover of this book looks a bit like the wrappings on old fashioned boiled sweet - and the insides are fairly similar as well - sometimes warm, sometimes spicy, a couple of rough bits, and hard to swallow whole.

It offers a slightly different take on the story of the suffragettes just over 100 years ago. Hard to believe that in 1912, women weren't allowed to vote. That much is true - and many of the leading characters mentioned in the book also have their places in the history books.

But the m
Jan 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
I love historical fiction so when I was given The Hourglass Factory as a gift I was very eager to read it. It truly does not disappoint. When reading you feel totally immersed in the suffragette movement and get completely wrapped up in the mystery. Most of the main characters are very likeable, although I would like to have read more about Liam.

There is one thing that made me struggle to decide between a 3 or a 4 star rating; without posting any spoilers I will say that I thought the conclusio
Jul 27, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2015
I was really looking forward to reading this book. The subject topic of the suffragette movement sounded interesting. Half way through I almost gave up but continued after reading reviews on here. The story seemed to tread water all the time, when it started to get interesting, it would change direction. I felt there was not enough depth given to the characters maybe? And the most interesting person was barely in the book. There are some great reviews on here but I am afraid I felt very disatisf ...more
Amber Grenville-Smith
May 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An evocative read with many complex twists. Excellent!
Narrative Muse
– The Hourglass Factory is a daring debut. –

Confession: I had every intention of writing this review in one sitting.

I finished Lucy Ribchester’s daring debut novel The Hourglass Factory with a happy sigh, then ordered a chai latte and set up my laptop to share how much I loved this novel with you all. And then I found that the author had published a second novel, The Amber Shadows. I gave it a noble effort and made it halfway through my review before giving in, packing up and rushing off to find
Alyssia Cooke
Whilst this has an interesting story line, it flits about too much for you to ever get a real sense of the characters and what's going on. Whilst you only see the tale from two perspectives - that of a young reporter and a policeman forced into the suffragette unit - there are so many different characters and sub-plots that it felt like nothing was fully developed. Many of the characters end up being caricatured due to their eccentricities and roles in society, whilst some of the twists and turn ...more
Jun 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Right here goes - and its still a mixed bag in my head too so bare with me. Please....
Firstly, it runs at a cracking pace. But I find that the same or simmilar episode is happening over and over again. Great the first time but after the fifth or sixth I'm getting wary. I know these things happen in crime/detective drama but is this what this is????
Secondly, how do I categorise this? Is it detective fiction? steam - punk isque whatever that is? Semi -lesbian fiction? Eccentric English fiction =
Jun 06, 2017 rated it liked it
This book has a lot going for it: suffragettes, women leads, London and journalism, but I feel it's rather over-complicated and confusing at times. I loved the lucid descriptions of dirty, dank London and hungry inhabitants. The novel breathes life into a snapshot history of the suffragettes' campaign. However, there are so many sub-plots, themes and minor characters that I struggled to keep pace (circus, theatre, journalism, corset tight-lacing fetishism). The main characters have much potentia ...more
Wendy Jakob
I found this a challenge to start with but I was gradually drawn in and I found myself enjoying it. It was interesting to read about London in the early 20th century, especially as I recognised so many of the areas in the book. I also learned more about the Sufragette movement at the time.

I wasn't so convinced about the police involvement in the book and, as other reviewers have commented, some characters were more developed than others. Overall though I thought it was a very good debut.
Zoe Radley
Sorry no rating from me just a load of hogwash and absolute drivel the characters are cheap and awful with no sense of reality to them and just sorry what in hell is a women even doing in the press anyway at that time. I am sure there were a few but this person the main character ofc has to be a lesbian and odd to want to work in newspapers because nobody will want to read this book if doesn’t have a bit of sapphism and suffragests and the titanic along with a stupid murder that doesn’t make any ...more
Jul 22, 2017 rated it liked it
This book was fun. Set in a period of history I hadn't read much about before -- the fight for women's suffrage in England in the early 1900s. The characters are colorful and amusing. Sometimes I felt the author was trying too hard with scene and character descriptions, such that it was distracting from the story. On the whole, would recommend this as a quick summer read. ...more
Simone Harper
Oct 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Interesting reading, some amusing characters
Louise Conway
Jul 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
It's not very often you come across a book than makes you double take. There's some breathtaking turn of phrase in this story and although set in London in the early 1900s it feels so relevant. ...more
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Reading Addicts: September New Released BOTM#2-The Hourglass Factory 5 10 Sep 01, 2015 04:03AM  

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I’m a dance and fiction writer based in Edinburgh. Many moons ago I studied English at the University of St Andrews, and later Shakespearean Studies at Kings College London and Shakespeare’s Globe. I then embarked on a strange and waggly career path organising parties at a boutique cinema in London, working for Al Jazeera television network, freelance writing while living in Spain, and later coord ...more

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