The Painter's Daughters

Emily Howes


We send all orders via Royal Mail: within the UK, choose from 1st Class, 2nd Class or Special Delivery; for the rest of the world, International Standard or International Tracked. Delivery and packaging charges are calculated automatically at the checkout.

To collect orders in person from the Bookshop, choose Click and Collect at the checkout.

Phoenix Press
29 February 2024
ISBN: 9781399610780
384 pages

From the publisher

An award-winning first novel about art, sisterhood and madness, inspired by the two daughters of painter Thomas Gainsborough, who spent their lives trying and failing to live up to the perfect image the world so admired in their portraits

'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

'A rich evocation of secrets, art, sisterhood and class' i PAPER

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 confusion, and Peggy knows instinctively that no one must find out.

When the family move to Bath, Thomas Gainsborough finds fame as a portrait artist, while his daughters are thrown into the whirl of polite society. Here, 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, she finds herself falling in love, and their precarious situation is soon thrown catastrophically off-course. The discovery of a betrayal forces her to question all she has done for Molly - and whether any one person can truly change the fate of another . . .

Inspired by true events and told with irresistible vibrancy and wit, Emily Howes' award-winning debut is a captivating and deeply moving novel about art, sisterhood and the price we pay for love.

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

'A beautiful debut' JO BROWNING WROE

'An incredible first novel that'll leave you scouring the real-life paintings for clues' STYLIST