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The Ashford Affair by [Willig, Lauren]
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The Ashford Affair Kindle Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 209 customer reviews

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Length: 367 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Willig veers away from her Pink Carnation Regency spy series in this stand-alone offering, which follows Clementine Evans, an ambitious young lawyer who decides to dig into her family’s history after discovering she bears more than a passing resemblance to a cousin of her grandmother’s who she’s never heard of. Clemmie’s grandmother, Addie, and the cousin, Bea, grew up together in England in the early twentieth century after Addie’s parents died and Bea’s family took Addie in. Addie grew up in the glamorous Bea’s shadow, eventually losing Frederick, the man she loved, to Bea. In the present, Clemmie tries to reconcile this new information with what she knows about Addie’s long and happy marriage to Frederick. Clemmie feels especially betrayed by Jon, the handsome stepson of her mother’s sister, who clearly knows more than he’s letting on. Though it lacks the swashbuckling charm of her long-running series, Willig’s new outing takes readers from WWI-era London to Kenya of the 1920s to New York in the 1990s, offering plenty of twists and intrigue to keep them entertained. --Kristine Huntley

Review

The Ashford Affair is a reader's treat, an artfully-woven saga that sweeps us into the lives of three generations of a family entangled in life-changing secrets. Lauren Willig spins a web of lust, power and loss, taking us from England to Kenya to New York, from World War I to today's modern world, posing a timeless question: what in our own family stories might surprise or shock – or change our lives – if we had access to the whispers from the past?” ―Kate Alcott, New York Times bestselling author of The Dressmaker

“There are few authors who make you want to take a day off from life to devour their latest book, but Lauren Willig is one of them. The Ashford Affair is absolutely impossible to put down!” ―Michelle Moran, bestselling author of Madame Tussaud

“Rich with detail and historical imagination, The Ashford Affair evokes the lives and passions of the interwar era with harrowing precision. The enthralling mystery kept me up late into the night, and the characters will remain with me forever. Lauren Willig has delivered a stunning masterpiece.” ―Beatriz Williams, author of Overseas

“With The Ashford Affair, Lauren Willig crafts a lavishly detailed saga readers will devour.” ―Deanna Raybourn, New York Times bestselling author of The Dark Enquiry


Product Details

  • File Size: 1508 KB
  • Print Length: 367 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (April 9, 2013)
  • Publication Date: April 9, 2013
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009HP01I0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #86,382 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Christina Boyd VINE VOICE on April 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In a departure from her Napoleonic spy romances of the Pink Carnation Series, New York Times bestselling author Lauren Willig ventures into new territory with The Ashford Affair. Entwining one generation's story with that of another, from post-Edwardian British society to modern day Manhattan to a coffee farm in Kenya, the long veiled secrets of a woman are unraveled.

Clementine Evans, a focused, driven law associate on the cusp of making partner in a large Manhattan firm, attends her beloved grandmother Adeleine's 99th birthday and is accidentally enlightened to a family secret. At 34, Clemmie, feeling like her life is nothing but a 70-plus hour workweek, and a failed engagement, this intrigue becomes more than a distraction to the un-fulfilling, lonely details of her days.

"Clemmie slid the picture back into the drawer. There was another underneath it, a studio portrait of a woman, her head tilted. Her pale hair was crimped in stylized waves around her face and her pale eyes gazed soulfully into the distance. She looked, somehow, strangely familiar, her cheekbones, the shape of her lips, as if Clemmie had seen her somewhere before." p. 65.

But trying to get any information from her own tight-lipped mother proves difficult. And how is it that her ex-stepbrother knows more about the family histories than she does?

Adeleine Gillecote's parents die when she is almost six and she grows up as the mouse-brown ward of her aristocratic aunt and uncle at Ashford Park, a grand English country house. Though brought up with her cousins, Addie never overcomes the status of a poor relation.
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Format: Hardcover
Like most "alternating timeline/present-day woman investigates secret from the past/family saga with a couple of love stories thrown in for good measure" novels, I both very much enjoyed The Ashford Affair and found it fairly predictable and too neatly tied up at the end.

Unlike most alternating timeline novels, I enjoyed both lead characters - Addie from the early 20th century and Clemmie from the end of the 20th century. I never found myself racing through one's portion of the book to get to the other. The relationships between characters were well-developed - particularly the crucial centerpiece of the novel, the relationship between Addie and Bea. And while I thought the lead romantic interest in the early 20th century portion was underdeveloped, I did enjoy the nuanced portraits of the women and how Willig managed to show the impact their social circumstances had on the formation of their characters.

That said, Ashford doesn't have the sweeping, grand feel I was expecting from a novel billed as a Downton Abbey cast of characters meets Out of Africa. In fact, the parts that do take place in Kenya seemed to go by quite quickly and I never had a strong sense of place when the characters were in Africa. The late 20th century story tied up in a way that you can see coming from the very first chapter.

Oddly enough, none of these quibbles really distracted me from the pleasure of reading the book and I got through it in a matter of a few reading sessions. I think most readers will find a lot to enjoy as The Ashford Affair - it's the kind of guilty-pleasure, "no what you're in for" kind of read that can be a lot of fun.
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Format: Hardcover
Clementime Evans puts in an appearance at her grandmother Addie's, ninety-ninth birthday. She's been working long hours expecting to make partner in a large Manhattan law firm, but the effort has taken it's toll. She's dealing with a broken engagement and other evidence that her life is falling apart. Seeing her grandmother reminds her of the extraordinary love affair between her grandparents, but even there she finds something disturbing when a guest alludes to a family secret. Clementine's curiosity is aroused, and she begins a quest to discover the secret.

The story is told in the alternating voices of Clementine and her grandmother Addie. Clementine's story takes place in the wealthy sector of Manhattan. Her grandmother's story ranges from WWI society in Britain to the plains of Kenya. The historical locales are realistic giving a glimpse of what Africa and Britain were like before the world wars.

The characters are sympathetic. You can't help wanting to hear their story, and what a story it is: an intense love affair, murder or suicide, and complex family dynamics. I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a family saga combined with an unforgettable love story.

I reviewed this book for Net Galley
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
(3.5 stars) I'm not a big fan of Lauren Willig's Pink Carnation Regency series but I downloaded this unrelated book for two reasons: 1) Part of it takes place in 1920s Kenya and Colonial Africa has always fascinated me, and 2) It was a bargain book for Kindle.

I'm glad I read it although I was expecting a bit more from the read. More epic in scope, more exciting as an adventure/mystery, more in-depth about Africa, with a more appealing modern-day character. (She was a bit blah and reactive, rather than proactive.)

Taking place over three generations from the early 1900s up to 2000, the story focuses on present-day New York lawyer Clemmie and her British-born grandmother Addie, who was orphaned in 1906 and went to live as a poor relation at Ashford Park with her aunt, uncle and young cousins, one of whom, Bea, becomes as close to her as a sister would be. Of the main characters, Bea and Addie stand out as the more interesting with the more exciting lives.

As the story moves from England to Kenya to the United States, the story of these characters' lives unfolds, as Clemmie little by little finds out more about her grandmother Addie and cousin Bea. There's a love triangle, unhappy marriages and infidelity, and a mystery. Whatever happened to Bea in Africa?

The story moves back and forth in time. Now Addie and Bea are young girls, now Addie is an aging grandmother, now the focus is on Clemmie and her little life, now we're in England, now in Africa, now in the U.S. That said, it's an easy tale to follow but the story held only mild surprises for this reader. Still it held my interest enough to round my 3.5 star rating to 4.
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