Click here to read reviewer Michael Leonard's take on The Ashford Affair.
Lauren Willig, author of the bestselling “Pink Carnation” series, has moved from the Napoleonic era to the Edwardian period in The Ashford Affair. This novel spans nearly a century—from aristocratic England in 1906 to colonial Kenya in the 1920s to modern-day Manhattan in 2000.
Clementine “Clemmie” Evans is a 30-something single lawyer living in New York. Trying to make partner at her firm, she no longer has time for romantic or family relationships. At Granny Addie’s 99th birthday party, Clemmie shares a moment with her grandmother that compels her to learn more about Addie’s mysterious past, eventually discovering a shocking family secret.
Juxtaposed with Clemmie’s New York City life at the start of the new millennium is the story of Adeline “Addie” Gillecote, a poor orphan relation of an aristocratic family living in the sprawling Ashford Park estate in the early 20th century. Addie is taken in by her aunt and uncle and soon becomes close with her glamorous cousin, Bea.
As Clemmie learns more about her grandmother’s life, we see the relationship between Addie and Bea unfold over the decades. They come of age as the First World War rages across Europe, sharing secrets and forming a bond that is stronger than sisterhood. However, when something even stronger comes between them, their lives—and by extension, Clemmie’s—are changed forever.
Willig crafts a thoroughly entrancing tale, transitioning effortlessly between Clemmie’s life in Manhattan and Addie and Bea’s story that takes them from British high society to the coffee plantations of Kenya. I was thoroughly drawn into the novel by the strength of the characters and the richness of the details against the backdrop of a fascinating period in history. Please do pick up The Ashford Affair, but make sure you have plenty of time to savor it. This is a book you’ll be reluctant to put down.