Historical Fiction

The English Wife by Lauren Willig ★★★★

Something terrible happens on the night of Annabelle and Bayard (Bay) Van Duyvil’s Twelfth Night ball celebrating the completion of their new family home in Cold Spring, New York. Bay is found dead with a knife in his chest and Annabelle is missing, feared drowned. Janie, Bay’s sister finds herself trusting and teaming up with a reporter to seek the truth about what happened and why.

At first I thought this story moved a bit slowly, almost plodding along as it shifted immediately from the night of the ball to five years earlier when Bay and Annabelle first met in London. Without context, it was a little confusing. However, I trusted the author knew what she was doing and she did. It’s a slow build to developing these characters and that was brilliant because near halfway, that intimate knowledge of these two becomes vital to feeling their story, connecting with their emotions when so much more is revealed. From that point forward, I literally could not put this book down, finishing it in one day.

There are hosts of surprises, twists and subterfuge embedded in an historically authentic prose and background. The matriarch of the Van Duyvil family sets the tone from which everyone revolves, maddenly so. The intrigue is almost palpable through the stunning conclusion. It’s my first experience with this author and now I’ll read the other books of hers that are languishing on my shelf. This was not an easy read but well worth the journey. Loved it.

 

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(I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review)

 

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