THE HOUSE OF CLOSED DOORS by Jane Steen centers around Nell Lillington, an unwed pregnant young woman bearing the burden of a secret. To avoid scandal, her stepfather arranges for lodging at a poor farm where she will remain until the baby is born and subsequently adopted. Her disgraceful condition must be kept hidden as her stepfather seeks political office. To protect her ailing mother, Nell agrees to his terms. Living among others deemed unfit for existence, she nurtures stifled independence and befriends her roommate, a young female afflicted with Down’s Syndrome. After the birth of her child, Nell is determined to keep her baby and seeks help from a close friend. But the discovery of two bodies, a young woman and her baby, places Nell and her newborn in the crosshairs of a surprising foe. She resorts to blackmail as a final attempt to ensure their safety, but blackmail has its time limits.
Readers should know this is not a stand-alone novel. Nell’s journey continues in two more books; thus, the ending leaves a ‘hanging’ effect. If you prefer a novel’s conclusion neatly packaged in a bow, this is not the book for you. However, those who seek historical fiction bundled in trios will be pleasantly entertained. Set during the 1870s, the historical aspects of the poor farm are well researched, and Steen describes the period with accuracy. Her word structuring is eloquent, graceful, and intelligent.
I look forward to reading more of her work.