Published: April 9th, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
New York Times bestselling author Lauren Willig "spins a web of lust, power and loss" (Kate Alcott) that is by turns epic and intimate, transporting and page-turning
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.
Well known for her series of 'Pink Carnation' novels, Lauren Willig has stretched out in a slightly different direction this time around. While still a historical novel, The Ashford Affair is based in London and Kenya between the World Wars and with a contemporary timeline in New York, circa 2000.
Ms. Willig very successfully illustrates the differences between growing up in those different eras and how hard it was for people to adapt to changes. The descriptions of Kenya were very vivid and it was easy to imagine myself there, even though the lifestyle was completely different to anything I've ever experienced, and attitudes were quite different.
The main characters are Clemmie, who is dissatisfied with her life and decides to investigate her grandmother's life, and Addie, her grandmother, who we find out about through a series of flashbacks. There are several instances of misdirection and the introduction of new characters to add interest.
The Ashford Affair is not as humourous as her other books but the story is engrossing and enjoyable just the same. It isn't a YA novel, but I see no reason why YA readers who enjoy historical books shouldn't enjoy this one