Monday, May 20, 2013

Book Review: The Ashford Affair by Lauren Willig

Pages: 358
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: April 9, 2013
Source: Library
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "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."

Clementine Evans, or Clemmie, works in Manhattan as a lawyer and hopes to make partner as she has devoted her life to the firm.  Even though her career has taken off, her personal life has done the opposite. Her engagement has been called off which sends her on a tailspin since, to her, being single at thirty four is tragic.  Her grandmother, Addie, is turning ninety-nine, so the family throws a party for her.  Clemmie shows up late as usual and comes to find her grandmother not doing as well as she had hoped.  While at the party, she learns that there's a family secret and one that could change the way she looks at her family forever.  Readers will also be transported back in time to Addie's post-World War I life.  Addie's parents have tragically died in an accident, so she has been shipped off to live with her wealthy uncle, the Earl of Ashford. The only redeeming aspect of this sitauation is Bea, her cousin, who has taken Addie under her wing. The Asford Affair by Lauren Willig is a captivating multi-generational story about family secrets, which slowly unfold. Readers will love putting together all the pieces of this family's deep secrets.

Readers can't help but feel bad for Addie who is low man on the totem pole while living with the Earl of Ashford.  Her aunt isn't very nice to her and treats her pretty much like a second class citizens. Thankfully Addie has Bea's friendship.  As they get older, things get more complicated as Bea ends up in a marriage that has some major issues. Bea decides to throw caution to the wind and act much like her husband by taking a lover.  This lover happens to be Addie's friend and love interest.  Drama ensues in The Asford Affair.

Clemmie's story is also interwoven into The Ashford Affair and she has some secrets of her own.  I enjoyed trying to figure out Clemmie and following along her quest for the truth regarding some major family secrets.  She has always looked to her grandparents as having the ideal marriage, but when she finds out the truth regarding her family's history, things get very complicated.

Willig does a fantastic job jumping back and forth through various time periods as well as settings in The Ashford Affair. Her descriptions of colonial Kenya were detailed and vivid and then she would transport us back to modern New York City and even London.  It was never confusing and done expertly.  

I loved being lost in this historical romance and if you are a fan of Willig's Pink Carnation series, I think you'll be pleased with this well done stand-alone novel.  


  1. I haven't read anything by this author, but I do so love a good historical romance, so maybe I'll check her out. I always find new books/authors to try on your blog Christina, it's s much fun:)

  2. I think I was sold at "family secrets" - I'm a sucker for family secrets in books. ;)

    Great review!


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