From the Booker-shortlisted author of The Garden of Evening Mists comes an evocative, rich tale of love, betrayal and morality in 1920s Penang
LONGLISTED FOR THE BOOKER PRIZE 2023
A SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER
A FINANCIAL TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR
A NEW STATESMAN BOOK OF THE YEAR
A NEW YORKER BOOK OF THE YEAR
A WASHINGTON POST BOOK OF THE YEAR
It is 1921 and at Cassowary House in the Straits Settlements of Penang, Robert Hamlyn is a well-to-do lawyer and his steely wife Lesley a society hostess. Their lives are invigorated when Willie, an old friend of Robert’s, comes to stay.
Willie Somerset Maugham is one of the greatest writers of his day. But he is beleaguered by an unhappy marriage, ill-health and business interests that have gone badly awry. He is also struggling to write. The more Lesley’s friendship with Willie grows, the more clearly she see him as he is – a man who has no choice but to mask his true self.
As Willie prepares to leave and face his demons, Lesley confides secrets of her own, including how she came to know the charismatic Dr Sun Yat Sen, a revolutionary fighting to overthrow the imperial dynasty of China. And more scandalous still, she reveals her connection to the case of an Englishwoman charged with murder in the Kuala Lumpur courts – a tragedy drawn from fact, and worthy of fiction.
From Man Booker Prize-shortlisted Tan Twan Eng, The House of Doors is a masterful novel of public morality and private truth a century ago. Based on real events it is a drama of love and betrayal under the shadow of Empire.
“Outstanding … The House of Doors again displays [Eng’s] talent for atmospheric evocation of place and period … Beautifully detailed and encompassing the vagaries of Maugham’s life, the contours of his creativity and the personal and political tensions covertly quivering through the sultry colony around him, The House of Doors is a finely accomplished piece of work”
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“A tremendous feat of literary imagination. Highly evocative, richly observed and entirely convincing, it is a tour de force!”
“Sex, scandal and Somerset Maugham … an elegant meditation on oppression, repression and loneliness … The House of Doors pays tribute to storytelling itself as a means not just of memorialising, but recreating … imbued with quiet yearning, this a pleasurably old-fashioned novel”
“What elevates Eng’s book is the sheer beauty of his writing – restrained, elegant, precise, every detail accurate, every line considered. Pain, loss and disappointment seep from every page, as do beauty and compassion … Tan Twan Eng resides in the very top row”
times Literary Supplement
“Expertly constructed, tightly plotted and richly atmospheric”
Tan Twan Eng was born in Penang, Malaysia. His debut novel The Gift of Rain was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2007 and has been widely translated. The Garden of Evening Mists won the Man Asian Literary Prize 2012 and the 2013 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2012 and the 2014 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. The House of Doors is his third novel.