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The House of Closed Doors [Kindle Edition]

Jane Steen
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)

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Historical Fiction
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Book Description

In Nell Lillington's small Midwestern town of the 1870s, marriage is the obvious fate of a young woman of some social standing. Yet Nell is determined to elude the duties and restrictions of matrimony. So when she finds herself pregnant at the age of 17, she refuses to divulge the name of the father and even her childhood friend Martin is kept in the dark.

Nell's stepfather Hiram sends Nell to live at the Poor Farm of which he is a governor, to await the day when her baby can be discreetly adopted. Nell is ready to go along with Hiram's plans until an unused padded cell is opened and two small bodies fall out.

Nell is the only resident of the Poor Farm who is convinced that the unwed mother and her baby were murdered, and the incident prompts her to rethink her decision to abandon her own child to her fate. But the revelations to which her questions lead make her realize that even if she manages to escape the Poor Farm with her baby, she may have no safe place to run to.

Product Details

  • File Size: 510 KB
  • Print Length: 278 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Aspidistra Press; 1 edition (June 25, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008EWNCC4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #553,976 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing historical fiction! August 10, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Set in the Middle West, not too far out of Chicago (though not yet connected by rail), Nell Lillington's story as an unwed, pregnant 17-year-old in the merchant class of society, begins. The narrative voice is very strong here, and consistent throughout. The historical detail woven into the story adds to its realism without ever being oppressive or unnecessary. The writing style and formatting is strong and very well done. The entire novel, from the beginning to the ending acknowledgments feels quite professional and thorough. It does not display any of the grammatical pitfalls and errors that so much of the self-publishing world is riddled with. The murderous plot and villain certainly are horrifyingly grim, but the book is well balanced with plenty of uplifting and positive characters (there are a lot of strong female characters here!). The murder mystery does not dominate the novel, and it really is Nell's coming to independence and her personal journey that is the focus here - she is such a likable character that I am already looking forward to the sequel!
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
"Even a lie told for a good purpose has a way of perpetuating itself, doesn't it?"

A woman living in the 1870's doesn't have a lot of options for a career, but becoming pregnant and not being married is even worse. This is the situation that Eleanor "Nell" Lillington finds herself in. When she refuses to disclose the father (not wanting to be married), her father sends her to a Poor Farm where she is to give birth to the child and eventually give the child up for adoption. But the discovery of a double murder along with the people she interacts with daily has a great effect on Nell and forces her to do some serious growing up.

NOTE: I received a free version of this from the author, who happens to be a Goodreads friend of mine.

Some of the first books I remember my mother reading to me were the Laura Ingalls Wilder stories. I adored Laura Ingalls Wilder; I probably read each book several times by myself, once I "outgrew" my mom reading to me. And I also read many of the books based on the events after Laura's own books (such as the Rose Wilder series).

While I am probably more of a science fiction/fantasy girl, I still enjoy reading a nice historical. And this book, while a bit out of my historical fiction range (I typically like ancient historicals) sounded pretty interesting. So I was thrilled to have the opportunity to read this novel.

First off, I was greatly impressed with the writing. I've heard horror stories of self-published authors' works, how they are barely or sloppily edited, with grammar and spelling mistakes galore. Not so here. I think I found only two formatting issues (EDIT: apparently, these are Kindle issues, not formatting issues), and I saw absolutely no glaring grammar and spelling mistakes.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The House of Closed Doors - A good read July 4, 2012
By Amcat79
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I just finished reading The House of Closed Doors and really enjoyed it. The characters and plot draw you in and leaves you wanting more. I hope a sequel is in the works to continue the story of Nell. Sarah, Tess, and Martin.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Inacurate and annoying December 10, 2012
By Tj
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Too many historical inaccuracies for my liking.
I finished it but did not enjoy it.
The mystery side was swallowed up by the excessive wallowing in pity of the heroine.
In those days pregnancy out of wedlock was a social taboo and she would have been shunned and sent off to have the child away from family and friends. So why she felt ill treated was beyond me.
This book attempted to placate modern sensibilities. I found it merely annoying
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
Nell Lillington's got a big problem - her mother and stepfather have just discovered she's pregnant and she's not willing to name the father and enter into a marriage she doesn't want. Nell's stepfather is active in politics and the last thing he needs is a scandal, so he packs her off to a poor farm out in the country for her confinement. Nell settles in well at her new *home* and makes some interesting new friends (loved Tess!), but there's soon a bit of a mystery to be solved when the older wing is opened and a pair of bodies is found in one of the cells. Were they locked in, or did they lock themselves in? How did they get into a section of the home that was securely locked? And just who would want to *do in* an unwed mother and her young child? Hmmmm?

"The door slammed shut. I heard the spring bolt shoot into place with a hard thud. I leaped to my feet and screamed like I had never screamed in my entire life."

That's about all I want to tell, going further would spoil the story. I liked this a lot, it was a quick easy read that kept me guessing; and there are more twists and turns after the evil baddie is revealed (my heart just about dropped when he did THAT). The 1870s Midwest setting was a refreshing change, and along with a look at life on a poor farm (it's like its own mini-society), and the author also worked the Great Chicago Fire into the story. I know I'm going to say this clumsily, but a huge thumbs up to the character of Tess, who suffered from Down's Syndrome. It so refreshing to have a character with a handicap worked into the story and to watch the strong bond develop between Nell and Tess. Other big pluses were no formatting errors, nor even a typo to be found (if there were, I missed them), so thank you Ms.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Reading Entertainment at its best!
I thoroughly enjoyed this tale of young Nell - an innocent girl who finds herself pregnant after a naive flirtation. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Maureen Lang
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book with lots of twists and hard to put down. I really enjoyed it!
Published 3 months ago by Cindy Johnson
4.0 out of 5 stars When Nell a young woman of good social standing finds herself pregnant...
When Nell a young woman of good social standing finds herself pregnant and refuses to name the father she finds her self at the mercy o her step father. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Rebecca
4.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed reading about the societal restrictions and regulations
When Nell finds herself pregnant, her step father sends her to the Poor Farm, where she can give birth in secret and the baby can be adopted out. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Mary E. Young
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good story. Action filled.
Published 7 months ago by leslie
3.0 out of 5 stars A great story
I found the story very compelling. Couldn't wait to turn the page to see what happened next.
It has mystery, love and intreague!
Published 8 months ago by Adele Schwartz
4.0 out of 5 stars The house of bloked door
The house of blocked doors kept me into it I had to finish i it was a good read please read it for yourselves
Published 12 months ago by sweet57
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Mystery Story
While this is a great mystery story it is set in the past and kind of unrealistic. but otherwise really great. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Enjoyed the story and the characters. You developed each of them so well I could see them. Great idea for story.
Published 16 months ago by susan
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved the era
This story of a woman's situation and how family and society dealt with it in the 1870's was enlightening and enchanting. I want more!
Published 19 months ago by Christine L Walsh
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More About the Author

Jane Steen was born in England and, despite having spent more years out of the British Isles than in, still has a British accent according to just about every American she meets.

Her long and undistinguished career has included a three-year stint as the English version of a Belgian aerospace magazine, an interesting interlude as an editor in a very large law firm, and several hectic years in real estate marketing at the height of the property boom. This tendency to switch directions every few years did nothing for her resume but gave her ample opportunity to sharpen her writing skills and develop an entrepreneurial spirit.

Around the edges of her professional occupations and raising children, she stuck her nose in a book at every available opportunity and at one time seemed on course to become the proverbial eternal student. Common sense prevailed, though, and eventually she had the bright idea of putting her passion for books together with her love of business and writing to become a self-published author.

Jane has lived in three countries and is currently to be found in the Chicago suburbs with her long-suffering husband and two adult daughters.


Topic From this Discussion
Is there a sequel to The House of Closed Doors?
There really does need to be a sequel.
Aug 13, 2013 by Kathy |  See all 3 posts
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