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The Ladies of the House

3.09  ·  Rating details ·  192 ratings  ·  47 reviews
On a sweltering July day, three people are found dead in a dilapidated house in London's elegant Primrose Hill. Reading the story in a newspaper as she prepares to leave the country, Marie Gillies has an unshakeable feeling that she is somehow to blame.

How did these three people come to live together, and how did they all die at once? The truth lies in a very different Eng
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published March 26th 2015 by Picador
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Average rating 3.09  · 
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Mar 29, 2015 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: BBC Radio Listeners
Recommended to Bettie by: Laura

Description: On a sweltering July day, three people are found dead in a dilapidated house in London's elegant Primrose Hill. Reading the story in a newspaper as she prepares to leave the country, Marie Gillies has an unshakeable feeling that she is somehow to blame.

How did these three people come to live together, and how did they all die at once? The truth lies in a very different England, in the double life of Marie's father Arthur, and in the secre
Mar 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a really unusual read that grabbed my attention in a very quiet, getting under the skin way. When Marie Gillies reads a newspaper article about three people being found dead in a house in London, she feels guilty. Although she had nothing to do with their deaths, and had never met them, she did know exactly who they were. That is just the start of this story which is partly set in post war Soho and follows the fortunes of a group of prostitutes, or high class call girls as they prefer to ...more
Maya Panika
Jan 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
An advance review of a book due to be published on 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 -
Mar 24, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Bettie
From BBC Radio 4 - Book at Bedtime:
On a sweltering July day, three people are found dead in a dilapidated house in London's elegant Primrose Hill. Reading the story in a newspaper as she prepares to leave the country, Marie Gillies has an unshakeable feeling that she is somehow to blame.

How did these three people come to live together, and how did they all die at once? The truth lies in a very different England, in the double life of Marie's father Arthur, and in the secret world of the ladies o
 Reading Reindeer 2021 On Proxima Centauri
Review:  THE LADIES OF THE HOUSE by Molly McGrann

Compelling and mysterious, THE LADIES OF THE HOUSE narrates the steamy pasts and inglorious present of a trio of "ladies of the night":  Rita and Annetta, young women, and Sal, the woman who managed the house in which they worked. London, their backdrop, the three "ladies," and all the various men and women they encounter, are treated vividly, examined from deeply internal character to external actions. All are unforgettable.
Feb 28, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
~ Book reviews on my blog: ~

The Ladies of the House is a story about many things, but what stands out to me the most are the themes of longing, oppression and the unfairness of life.

First off, i have to say that this novel is quite depressing in its subject matter and at times I struggled reading it. At points it really made me feel sad and even disgusted, which didn't make it perhaps the most enjoyable novel to get immersed in, but that doesn't take away from the fact that
Jan 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this usual and original portrait of the world of prostitution and brothels in post-WWII England. Arthur Gillies runs a chain of brothels but he’s no underworld pimp but almost a respectable family man who cares about the well-being of his “girls”. It’s certainly not a sordid or depressing (although quite sad at times) read, something you might expect from a book about prostitutes, but actually a very human tale about independent women making their way in an often difficult envir ...more
Charlotte Jones
Oct 21, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: owned, dnf, crime-fiction
Read 40 pages and dnfed. The synopsis on my edition made it sound like a cosy mystery and didn't mention prostitution at all. Hence I went into it not expecting all of the non-consensual scenes or the horrific men. ...more
Cleopatra  Pullen
Apr 08, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: contemporary, own
The Ladies of the House is an unusual and enticing read from Molly McGrann, a read that worms its way under your skin and won’t let go. The gentle unfolding of a quite straightforward story got to me and that despite the fact that I found some of the scenes quite hard to read precisely because of the lack of drama.

So what is it all about? One day Marie Gillies is on her way to Heathrow when she spots a headline in the paper, three elderly people have all been found dead at a house in Primrose Hi
Sid Nuncius
Oct 06, 2015 rated it it was ok
I didn't get on with this book. It is a good idea for a story but for me it wasn't sufficiently well written or structured to work as a novel.

It is revealed early on that the chief protagonists of the book are former prostitutes now grown old, and the book is concerned with their histories, their characters and what took them along the path they ended up on. It is also about attitudes to them both in the past and the present, and how humanity or lack of it may affect people's lives. It's an orig
Jan 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley, 2017
After the Second World War, when everything was in short supply, there was more women than men and the ones that where left/come back from war, where maimed, injured or otherwise traumatized. But there was one man, who returned uninjured, even brought a wife from Italy with him and he started a very lucrative business - he collected houses and used those houses to make a business with ladies. Those ladies where not tenants of his, they lived in houses and earned their living on their back or in ...more
Mar 29, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2015, arc
This story begins at the end, then tells us how each of those characters came to be where they are. The Ladies of the House are prostitutes or high class call girls as they call themselves. They all work for Arthur Gillies, who owns a string of brothels, unbeknown to his family. The other ladies whose stories are entwined in this book are Arthur's wife and daughter.

I never really got into this book. I found the story jumped around a lot between different character POV and also back and forth in
Mar 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Excellent writing that fizzes and snaps at you all the way through. Really a 4.5 stars

The characterisation is impeccable in this book, every character has depth and truth, and several are dealt with. I was never bored reading about each one. It's seedy and compelling and very evocative of the 50's & 60's in past flashback sections.

Those with a puritanical streak may feel squeamish, I found it fascinating. The life of high class prostitutes during and after their working life is done is handled
Lisa Bentley
Oct 13, 2019 rated it did not like it
The Ladies of the House by Molly McGrann is a strange little story about two families connected by one man: Arthur Gillies.
You have Marie and her mother who live quite a quiet and sheltered life but when Marie discovers her dad lived an alternative life that she had absolutely no prior knowledge of, she also learns that he is a multimillionaire.

In another part of London lives Arthur’s alternative family – Rita, Annetta and Joseph. They all belong to Arthur. Joseph – his illegitimate son lives wi
Priyanka Madan
May 27, 2020 rated it it was ok
This is a strange story of prostitutes who lived in brothels owned by Arthur Gillie. He was a married man that lived two separate lives.After his death, his only daughter Marie, reads about the death of 3 elderly people lovong in one of the houses owned by her deceased father and she somehow feels responsible for their death. And then the story is shown in flashbacks recounting lives of all these people.

It seemed as if they are chapters of different books, as the story didnt really connect as a
Jun 09, 2018 rated it liked it
I feel I was missold this - the blurb was quite misleading. I expected an unravelling of the mystery of the three people dead in the house, but that's not what I got. There was no mystery, just coincidences. It wasn't a bad read, but it wasn't what I expected and I probably wouldn't have bothered if I'd known what is was really about. ...more
Judith Sulivan
Hi what a lovely and funky specimen this is.

Takes us behind the scenes of grand North London homes and allows us a peek into lives that are hidden both physically within a building and narratively in the reshaping and remoulding of stories. We all do it to a degree and here McGrann gives us a personal tour into the truth and the truths tucked away in this lovely Primrose Hill home.

Laura Tassoni
I don't know why I didn't massively rate this book. The situations were interesting, the characters were interesting enough, but they just didn't grab me. I nearly didn't finish, but ploughed on to the end, which is kind of predicted at the beginning anyway, so ... meh ... ...more
Jenny L
Jun 30, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-books
One of those (in my opinion) pointless stories. Disappointing to say the least.
May 16, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: did-not-finish
This book is less than 300 pages but it took me three weeks to read the first 50... It just isn't that interesting. ...more
Fran Dorricott
Apr 20, 2015 rated it liked it
Thanks to Katie Green at Pan Macmillan/Picador. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Having browsed through a few of the Amazon reviews available for this book, I’m seeing a theme emerging and an agreement with some of the points I am about to make. I think a lot of people were a bit disappointed with this book, and currently its average rating is only 3.6 stars (3 stars on Goodreads). Some of the reviews are a bit harsh, but I can see why there is such a mixture of op
Sam Still Reading
Nov 20, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people looking for a book that's a bit different
Recommended to Sam Still Reading by: from publisher/bought audiobook
Sometimes (actually, quite a bit) I feel really guilty about the number of eARCs I have from Net Galley to read. But recently I hit upon the idea of buying the audiobook to try and cut down my unread galleys and make me feel a little better. While it’s probably not an investment for everyone, I think it’s been good for me as it cuts out the ‘what should I listen to next’ dithering that I do each month at Audible. The Ladies of the House sounded like a bit of a different read, especially after se ...more
Kate Vane
Mar 12, 2015 rated it liked it
This novel begins with the death of three people in a dilapidated house in London’s affluent Primrose Hill. Marie Gillies, on hearing the news, feels that she is somehow to blame. As the story unfolds we learn that they were all, in their way, under the power of Arthur Gillies, her father.

Arthur Gillies was a wealthy man. He made money from brothels, but his fortune was ultimately made by the bricks and mortar rather than the women who lived in them. His ‘business’ was a secret from his timid wi
Ellie M
Thank you to the publishers for a review copy of this book.

I found this a difficult book to rate. I liked the story but felt that it didn't go anywhere. I think it deserves more a 3.5 than a 3 but I can't half star rate. That's not a criticism, but from the blurb I was wrongly expecting that this might be more of a mystery rather than a meander through a few people's lives, so in that respect I was a little "hmm, now what?" about the story.

The premise of the book was interesting - a woman is ab
Angela Elizabeth
Apr 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Molly McGrann's third novel, 'The Ladies of the House', is peek behind the curtains of an upmarket brothel in London, and a fascinating glimpse into the lives of ladies who inhabit it. Marie's father Arthur died years before the action unfolds, and Marie lives an ordinary life with her Italian mother, Flavia, trudging off to work in her retail job day after day. But Arthur still has a shock in store for Marie and her religious mother. Dreaming of a holiday for herself and her mother, Marie appro ...more
Apr 20, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
*I received an ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

Perhaps I didn't read it right. Perhaps I stopped paying attention halfway through. But this book was not what I thought it would be about.

What I read was an intriguing novel of two families joined by odd circumstances: two separate sets of women linked by a lover/father who neither of them really knew. To his wife and daughter, he was a businessman who lived at home only on weekends. To his son and girlfriend, he was the hi
Jan Hills
Dec 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Some horrid characters but a good story line
Vicky-Leigh Sayer
Mar 16, 2015 rated it liked it
the Ladies of the house from its outset, is an intriguing novel. The opening chapter setting the scene for mystery that follows. A mystery, I felt as a reader that was never entirely cleared up, and left me wondering if I had missed something along the way.

the Ladies of the house begins in the present day with the discovery of three bodies in a London house and Marie Gillies at an airport for the first time in her sheltered life learning of the deaths via a newspaper. She feels in some way respo
Feb 19, 2015 rated it liked it
Ladies of the House proved to be an inviting read. It tells the story of girls who worked as high end prostitutes in London after the war. Where they came from, how they came to be in that line of work and how they ended up living and working in the same house is the crux of this story. One man, Arthur Gillies, employs them, and stays weekdays with them, then returns to his wife and daughter for the weekend.

Each character's story is told reflectively from a retiree’s perspective. All except Mar
Feb 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Ladies of the House was an enjoyable read about women who became prostitutes after the war, and how their lives played out as the world settled down. It's also about the man who operated the houses and his wife and daughter, who were more of the hidden side of his life than the prostitutes, despite the fact that the ladies knew of his family, but his family knew nothing about his "business" life. And we can't forget the son of the favored lady. That's an awful lot of main characters!

The stor
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