Daughter of the House

Written by Rosie Thomas
Review by Lisa Redmond

Daughter of the House is the eagerly awaited follow-up to Rosie Thomas’s incredibly successful The Illusionists, and although it is a sequel, the book can quite easily be read as a stand-alone novel. It tells the story of Nancy Wix, daughter of the great theatre impresario, Devil Wix, and his melancholic wife, Eliza. Nancy discovers at a young age that she has psychic abilities but is at pains to keep “the uncanny” hidden from her family, though she struggles to do so when she is approached by another psychic after a boating tragedy. This man will haunt Nancy for many years.

As the middle child, Nancy is often the buffer in a house of large personalities: when her brothers go away to war, she must stay to hold her parents together. She joins the suffragettes, briefly finds work at a printing house, and longs to find her own place in the world. Through her psychic abilities, she finally finds her path, begins to let go of just being a daughter, and starts learning to be herself.

This is a wonderful coming-of-age tale set in a time of upheaval and social change. It is a story of the lives of women and the choices they face, and it is a wonderful evocation of the past. Thomas has made meticulous use of her research, brilliantly bringing to life the end of the music hall era and the rise of spiritualism in the 1920s. I highly recommend this smart, gothic, and romantic page-turner.