Review: The Ashford Affair

Title: The Ashford Affair Image

Author: Lauren Willig

Rating: ★★★

Provided Synopsis: New York Times bestselling author Lauren Willig “spins a web of lust, power and loss”(Kate Alcott) that is by turns epic and intimate, transporting and page-turning 

As a lawyer in a large Manhattan firm, just shy of making partner, Clementine Evans has finally achieved almost everything she’s been working towards—but now she’s not sure it’s enough. Her long hours have led to a broken engagement and, suddenly single at thirty-four, she feels her messy life crumbling around her. But when the family gathers for her grandmother Addie’s ninety-ninth birthday, a relative lets slip hints about a long-buried family secret, leading Clemmie on a journey into the past that could change everything… .

What follows is a potent story that spans generations and continents, bringing an Out of Africa feel to a Downton Abbey cast of unforgettable characters. From the inner circles of WWI-era British society to the skyscrapers of Manhattan and the red-dirt hills of Kenya, the never-told secrets of a woman and a family unfurl.

Review: In a departure from her Pink Carnation series, Lauren Willig providers her readers with a stand-alone novel that sweeps from London during WWI, to Africa, to New York City. It is a family narrative that smoothly transitions from the past to the present as Clementine discovers the secrets imbedded within her family history. Fans of Kate Morton’s novels should find an appreciation with this familiar narrative structure.

Addie, Clementine’s grandmother, is the orphaned and poor relation to the Earl and Countess of Ashford Park. Upon her parent’s untimely death she is sent to Ashford where she quickly becomes close to her cousin, Bea. The two are like sisters; their stark differences in personalities often lead to Addie following in Bea’s wake, which is precisely what her enigmatic cousin desires. Their relationship is the heart of this story — what happens to one also causes consequences in the life of the other. Eventually things become so muddled up and entangled with husbands, betrayal, lies, affairs, and children, that a secret is borne out of an event that happens in Kenya. That event changes the course that life had been on, eventually brining Clementine motive to dig into the past.

I can see this book being particularly good for a book club. There are many characters; and while I personally felt no connection or sympathy towards any character other than Addie, I do believe that it would be wonderful to debate the motives and characteristics of characters — Bea, in particular. Willig has truly created characters who jump off the page and who push you to want to dissect what they have done and what they could have done differently. So please let me know if you read this book then want to have a discussion on it.


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