Title: The Ashford Affair
Author: Lauren Willig
Release Date: April 9, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Historical Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Clementine Evans is an overworked young lawyer in New York with a special relationship with her grandmother, Addie. But Addie’s getting older and she isn’t in great health anymore. She begins talking about “Bea,” someone Clementine has never heard of; she later learns that Bea was Addie’s cousin, and that at one time, they were inseparable. But why hasn’t Addie ever heard of Bea? What secrets has her grandmother been hiding all these years?
Lauren Willig is best known for her Pink Carnation series, a collection of historical romance novels that revolve around spies. They’re fun, though they can be repetitive and formulaic, so I was thrilled to see that Willig had written something standalone and that wasn’t a romance. The Ashford Affair is a thoughtful novel about a young woman who doesn’t know what she wants and instead finds some solace in digging into the past.
The Ashford Affair takes place in two different times period, past and present. As Clemmie is dealing with her own troubles and learning Addie’s story, the novel jumps back to tell the story from Addie’s point of view. It’s very well done; Willig brings both settings to life, presenting vivid details for the reader. This is a story where the present and past are both well-balanced and equally well done stories; that’s hard to do and it makes the novel quite enjoyable.
Clementine is an interesting character in The Ashford Affair. She devotes her life to her job, and as a result, she doesn’t have a lot of time for her friends and family. Her relationship with Addie is touching; Clementine is clearly devoted to her grandmother, though it’s sad she doesn’t have more time for her. It’s interesting to watch Clementine reevaluate what her priorities are and what she believes will bring her happiness. I’ll also add that the romance in the novel is predictable and a little creepy, though Willig does her best to make it sweet.
If you’re looking for a light, easy read that still has heart, The Ashford Affair is a solid choice. It has some interesting settings (specifically, her depiction of Kenya in the 1920s is fascinating) and characters you’ll want to get to know. It’s definitely a great end-of-summer read that will leave you both entertained and satisfied.
Other books by Lauren Willig: