Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Ashford Affair Review

I had a REALLY hard time picking a new book before starting this one. I tried to get into Mark Helprin's In Sunlight and in Shadow, which sounded awesome, but I couldn't get through the overly descriptive sample. Turns out the book was 700+ pages. I would have drowned in words! Every description I read just didn't pull me in, but I finally went back to my sample of The Ashford Affair, which ended up completely sucking me in. This is a definite recommendation for fans of Kate Morton's novels.

The Ashford Affair follows Addie, a young girl in the early twentieth century whose parents died, leaving her to be raised by her aristocratic aunt and uncle. Her slightly older cousin, Bea, is her one comfort. The two girls are raised together and both cross paths with a man named Frederick in different ways. Addie's story goes from the country estate of Ashford in English to Kenya in the mid-1920's to New York City in the '90s.

By the 1990s, Addie is quite infirmed but beloved by her family and friends. Her 34 year old granddaughter, Clementine, is a lawyer who works ridiculous hours trying to become partner. She has just ended an engagement and feels quite alone as she learns that her grandmother, who helped raise her, is quite ill. Clemmie slowly learns the truth about Addie's past throughout the novel, which also flashes back to Addie's storyline in England, Africa and finally western America.

The story is rich and intriguing. As I said earlier, it's very much in the vein of Kate Morton - a sprawling multi-generational novel with a secret that is only revealed towards the end of the book. Clemmie is sort of your typical overachieving lawyer type who can't see her soulmate under her nose, while the mystery of how Addie ended up married and raising the children she raised definitely pulls the reader in. The ending wasn't entirely surprising, but was definitely satisfying. I've never read the author's Pink Carnation series but they sound interesting although there are so many of them that I don't know if I have the energy to start the books at this point. Overall, I really liked this novel and hope she writes more standalone stories!

Buy it at amazon and Barnes & Noble

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