The Ashford Affair by Lauren Willig
(St. Martin’s Press, 2013, 358 pages)
This novel was a fun romp between modern day NYC and early 20th-century England and Africa. It is the generally well-written story of lawyer Clementine Evans’ journey between romance, family, and career vis-a-vis an exploration into her grandmother’s story as she contemplates these things between trying to make partner at her large Manhattan law firm. I particularly enjoyed the rich historical details of life for children on Ashford Park, the large estate at which Clementine’s grandmother, Addie, and grandmother’s cousin, Bea, lived and the way the plot, rich with family secrets, unfolds.
Clementine (or Clemmie, as she is known to those close to her), is a likeable enough character. I both empathized with her hard work toward her career goals and felt sorry that she spent too much time working and not enough time inhabiting her life (a familiar struggle to those building their careers). While Bea and Addie’s stories were incredibly fascinating, I occasionally grew tired of the limited options available to them as early twentieth-century women, though Willig’s treatment of their stories was continually engaging.
I enjoyed this book because, whether or not I always liked the characters or what was going on in their lives, I cared about what happened to them. There is a lavish amount of romance and mystery through the generations to keep the reader engaged throughout the story. Those whom enjoy family histories and mysteries, movement between time periods, and attention to historical details, will likely appreciate this book.