The Painter's Daughters

The award-winning debut novel selected for BBC Radio 2 Book Club

Emily Howes author


Publisher:Orion Publishing Co

Published:29th Feb '24


This title is due to be published on 29th February, and will be despatched as soon as possible.

The Painter's Daughters cover


'Beautifully written . . . I raced through it' HILARY MANTEL

'As exquisitely and tenderly rendered as a Gainsborough painting' TRACY CHEVALIER

'A wonderfully powerful and haunting novel with a hugely gripping plot' DEBORAH MOGGACH

1759, Ipswich. Sisters Peggy and Molly Gainsborough are the best of friends and do everything together. They spy on their father as he paints, they rankle their mother as she manages the books, they tear barefoot through the muddy fields that surround their home. But there is another reason they are inseparable: from a young age, Molly has had a tendency to forget who she is, to fall into mental confusion, and Peggy knows instinctively that no one must find out.

When the family move to Bath, the sisters are thrown into the whirl of polite society, where the merits of marriage and codes of behaviour are crystal clear, and secrets much harder to keep. As Peggy goes to greater lengths to protect her sister from the threat of an asylum, she finds herself falling in love, and their precarious situation is soon thrown catastrophically off course. The discovery of a betrayal forces Peggy to question all she has done for Molly - and whether any one person can truly change the fate of another.

'A moving exploration of the familial ties that bind us and the grief of a life half-lived' ELIZABETH MACNEAL

'Vividly imagined and exquisitely brought to the page' RACHEL JOYCE

'A beautiful debut' JO BROWNING WROE

It's beautifully written and I raced through it. Research is filtered through contemporary consciousness and deployed with skill. It's a polished performance -- Hilary Mantel, Booker Prize-winning author of WOLF HALL
Beautifully written, moving and skilfully handled, The Painter's Daughters is as exquisitely and tenderly rendered as a Gainsborough painting -- Tracy Chevalier, author of GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING
A rich evocation of secrets, art, sisterhood and class * i paper *
A beautifully written, impressively researched novel about sisterly love, art and sacrifice, The Painter's Daughters is historical fiction at its finest. Both entertaining and enlightening, it swept me along in its galloping pace while teaching me about a world I never knew. Howes is a talent to be reckoned with. Wonderful -- Emma Stonex, author of THE LAMPLIGHTERS
A moving exploration of the familial ties that bind us and the grief of a life half-lived . . . a wonderful debut that lingered with me -- Elizabeth Macneal, author of THE DOLL FACTORY
A thoughtful and thought-provoking debut novel that brings to life the daughters of painter Thomas Gainsborough. Emily Howes is a talented writer who vividly evokes Regency England but doesn't shy away from exploring how its glittering society could constrain and threaten young women. An engaging and enjoyable mix of historical fact and beautifully-imagined fiction -- Joanna Quinn, author of THE WHALEBONE THEATRE
A wonderfully powerful and haunting novel about sisterly love, art and betrayal, with a hugely gripping plot. I absolutely loved it -- Deborah Moggach, author of TULIP FEVER
A feast for the senses and the joy of a story well told - a beautiful debut -- Jo Browning Wroe, author of A TERRIBLE KINDNESS

I loved The Painter's Daughters - a vivid, sad, beautiful novel about sisters

-- Amy Key, author of ARRANGEMENTS IN BLUE

My favourite kind of storytelling: vividly imagined and exquisitely brought to the page. I loved The Painter's Daughters for its freshness, its tenderness and its robust humour. It beautifully captures a child coming to terms with the adult world and the extraordinary bond that can exist between sisters. I adored it, and know it will stay with me for a very long time

A beautiful, moving and full-blooded novel that explores powerful questions about madness, art and love and brings unseen lives to the fore . . . I loved seeing the Gainsborough girls brought out of the canvas and into the messy real world, and the portrait of the artist himself in all his loving, faithless complexity -- Kate Murray-Browne, author of THE UPSTAIRS ROOM
A brilliant novel . . . the writing is sublime. It is like being transported back in time. I didn't want the story to end. If you enjoyed Maggie O'Farrell's Hamnet, you'll love this -- Karen Angelico, author of EVERYTHING WE ARE
A mesmerising and at times quietly devastating tale of two sisters, art, shared suffering and love. With The Painter's Daughters, Emily Howes has pulled off the finest of balancing acts, combining rich and evocative historical detail with a light and contemporary writerly touch -- Chloë Ashby, author of WET PAINT
Beautifully written, confidently told and vivid in every detail, The Painter's Daughters was both a pleasure to read and broke my heart -- Russell Franklin, author of THE BROKEN PLACES
In the tradition of Maggie O'Farrell and Tracy Chevalier, Emily Howes brings us the story of Thomas Gainsborough's two daughters, Molly and Margaret, whom she imagines were equal parts muse and millstone for the famed eighteenth-century portrait painter. Howes' thorough research and exquisite prose brings both girls to life, but it is the author's deep understanding of mental illness and how it affects families that sets the novel apart. Emily Howes is a true talent, and I did not want this book to end -- Rachel Beanland, author of THE HOUSE IS ON FIRE
A delicately painted story of the two Gainsborough sisters, their lives as intricately entwined as a silken spiderweb. I adored it -- Polly Crosby, author of VITA AND THE BIRDS
I loved this debut. An exquisite, absorbing story of sisterly love, buried secrets and the bids we make to live freely. The lives of the Gainsborough sisters, in Emily Howes's beautiful prose, captivated me -- Sarah Marsh, author of A SIGN OF HER OWN
A fantastic debut . . . The Painter's Daughters is a beautiful, heartbreaking, stunningly perceptive read about love and art, hope and expectation. And so gripping too - I devoured it -- Caroline Lea, author of THE GLASS WOMAN
A marvellous novel, up there with some of my favourite works of historical fiction. Emily Howes' evocation of the Gainsborough sisters' relationship is truly remarkable and the novel is a sensory delight, full of evocative descriptions that bring the past to life. I loved it -- Whitney Scharer, author of THE AGE OF LIGHT
A deeply touching tale of two sisters that probes the difference between love and self-sacrifice. Fascinating -- Priscilla Morris, author of BLACK BUTTERFLIES
This richly detailed historical novel from an exciting debut writer beautifully tells the story of the daughters of society painter Thomas Gainsborough * Red *
A historical novel that weaves fact and fiction into a haunting novel of love, madness and family secrets . . . an incredible first novel that'll leave you scouring the real-life paintings for clues * Stylist *
Fascinating * Washington Post *
Sibling bonds, arts and artifice, mental illness and marriage twine together in a story that was inspired by Gainsborough's portrait of his daughters, Peggy and Molly. Plunged into Bath polite society, their closeness is thrown into confusion as Peggy falls in love and Molly's illness threatens incarceration in an asylum * Daily Mail *
An illuminating read and an important look at views on mental health in the 18th century * Woman and Home *
Inspired by the daughters of artist Thomas Gainsborough, this historical fiction debut is perfect for fans of Maggie O'Farrell's Hamnet * Prima *

ISBN: 9781399610780

Dimensions: 238mm x 162mm x 40mm

Weight: 600g

384 pages