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Ashford Affair, The [Paperback]

Lauren Willig
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

17 April 2013
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 family unfurl.

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Ashford Affair, The + The Garden Intrigue: A Pink Carnation Novel + The Passion of the Purple Plumeria (Pink Carnation Novels)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: St Martin's Press (17 April 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250038936
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250038937
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.6 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 776,585 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Lauren Willig is the New York Times bestselling author of eleven works of historical fiction. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages, awarded the RITA, Booksellers Best and Golden Leaf awards, and chosen for the American Library Association's annual list of the best genre fiction. After graduating from Yale University, she embarked on a PhD in English History at Harvard before leaving academia to acquire a JD at Harvard Law while authoring her "Pink Carnation" series of Napoleonic-set novels. She lives in New York City, where she now writes full time.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars nice and entertaining 18 Nov 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
At times I found the plot this book a bit boring with too many details and superficial dialogues but all in all it was a light and entertaining story which helped me to deal with a very long flight to a rather sad occasion.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great read 28 Sep 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A change from this writer's usual subject but if you like her series of books about the pink carnation, you will enjoy this too. Highly recommended.
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  140 reviews
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Glittering brilliance! 8 April 2013
By Christina Boyd @xtnaboyd - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In a departure from her Napoleonic spy romances of the Pink Carnation Series, New York Times bestselling author Lauren Willig ventures into new territory with The Ashford Affair. Entwining one generation's story with that of another, from post-Edwardian British society to modern day Manhattan to a coffee farm in Kenya, the long veiled secrets of a woman are unraveled.

Clementine Evans, a focused, driven law associate on the cusp of making partner in a large Manhattan firm, attends her beloved grandmother Adeleine's 99th birthday and is accidentally enlightened to a family secret. At 34, Clemmie, feeling like her life is nothing but a 70-plus hour workweek, and a failed engagement, this intrigue becomes more than a distraction to the un-fulfilling, lonely details of her days.

"Clemmie slid the picture back into the drawer. There was another underneath it, a studio portrait of a woman, her head tilted. Her pale hair was crimped in stylized waves around her face and her pale eyes gazed soulfully into the distance. She looked, somehow, strangely familiar, her cheekbones, the shape of her lips, as if Clemmie had seen her somewhere before." p. 65.

But trying to get any information from her own tight-lipped mother proves difficult. And how is it that her ex-stepbrother knows more about the family histories than she does?

Adeleine Gillecote's parents die when she is almost six and she grows up as the mouse-brown ward of her aristocratic aunt and uncle at Ashford Park, a grand English country house. Though brought up with her cousins, Addie never overcomes the status of a poor relation. Despite this, her best friend from almost the start is her vivacious, beautiful, golden cousin, Bea, who takes Addie under her wing, sheltering Addie from her unwelcoming mother, and earning her love and fidelity. As the girls grow and experience the pre-WWI balls and English society, Addie tries not to begrudge Bea's beauty or her unaffected graces. But when a man comes between the two, it appears all loyalties come to an end, and, escaping to Kenya still isn't quite far enough. "Addie pressed her fist to her lips, trying not to think what she was thinking. She closed her eyes, fighting a terrible certainty, the certainty that what she was hearing was true, that this was Bea, that Bea had, did, and always would do what she liked, regardless of the consequences, regardless even of Addie." p. 196.

Although this latest offering is a non-Pink novel, fans of Willig's the Pink Carnation Series will be giddy with delight when they meet the handsome, cynical and witty descendant of Lord Vaughn. Yes! That Vaughn from The Masque of the Black Tulip.

"He looked feline himself, all boneless grace, with the measureless self-satisfaction afforded by knowing his ancestors had been dining off gold plate when others had still been scratching about in the dirt: the Honorable Theophilius Vaughn, the despair of the ancient line. According to his frustrated family, he had both the morals of a cat and all of its nine lives." p. 248.

"The spawn of Vaughn." Ha!! Her words from her website, not mine!

Some have described this novel as Out of Africa meets Downton Abbey. *sigh* Well, use those cinematic visuals if you must, but I can honestly attest, The Ashford Affair is so much more. Much more. This is the kind of the novel that will stay with you; keep you mulling over the vibrant characters and intrinsic detailing long after you've inhaled that satisfying last page. Lauren Willig's The Ashford Affair is brilliant! Glittering brilliance.
17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Family Secrets and an Unforgettable Love Story 9 April 2013
By Nancy Famolari - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Clementime Evans puts in an appearance at her grandmother Addie's, ninety-ninth birthday. She's been working long hours expecting to make partner in a large Manhattan law firm, but the effort has taken it's toll. She's dealing with a broken engagement and other evidence that her life is falling apart. Seeing her grandmother reminds her of the extraordinary love affair between her grandparents, but even there she finds something disturbing when a guest alludes to a family secret. Clementine's curiosity is aroused, and she begins a quest to discover the secret.

The story is told in the alternating voices of Clementine and her grandmother Addie. Clementine's story takes place in the wealthy sector of Manhattan. Her grandmother's story ranges from WWI society in Britain to the plains of Kenya. The historical locales are realistic giving a glimpse of what Africa and Britain were like before the world wars.

The characters are sympathetic. You can't help wanting to hear their story, and what a story it is: an intense love affair, murder or suicide, and complex family dynamics. I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a family saga combined with an unforgettable love story.

I reviewed this book for Net Galley
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Secrets Can Change Everything 17 April 2013
By Shelly Itkin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Lauren Willig is a wonderful writer and although this was the first book I have read of hers I will definitely be looking into the others she has written.

Ms. Willig tells a true love story that goes back and forth from Kenya in 1926 up to New York in 2001 and it is done thru two main characters. Clementine Evans, a young ambitious dedicated lawyer who is trying to become partner and has just broken an engagement with her boyfriend and her ninety-nine year old grandmother, Addie.

When the book opens we are meeting the other members of the family who are attending Grandma's 99th birthday party which of cause, Clenmentine is late due to work related issues.

We learn about Addie when she was a child and the problems she had to live with once her parents died in an accident and she was taken to Ashford to live with relatives of her parents. The story goes back and forth from WWI in Britain and the sacrifices and changes that are taking place to her and other family member's. Then we are taken to Kenya where we learn more things that happened in Africa and secrets are revealed from the past.

After Clementine's beloved Grandmother, Addie has passed away she is suddenly shocked after the funeral when her aunt and other members of the family start revealing some shocking secrets from the past that will now change her family forever.

In the end love does win out and you cheer for the happy ending. I recommend this as a must read.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just about right..... 21 April 2013
By Historical Fiction Notebook - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Like most "alternating timeline/present-day woman investigates secret from the past/family saga with a couple of love stories thrown in for good measure" novels, I both very much enjoyed The Ashford Affair and found it fairly predictable and too neatly tied up at the end.

Unlike most alternating timeline novels, I enjoyed both lead characters - Addie from the early 20th century and Clemmie from the end of the 20th century. I never found myself racing through one's portion of the book to get to the other. The relationships between characters were well-developed - particularly the crucial centerpiece of the novel, the relationship between Addie and Bea. And while I thought the lead romantic interest in the early 20th century portion was underdeveloped, I did enjoy the nuanced portraits of the women and how Willig managed to show the impact their social circumstances had on the formation of their characters.

That said, Ashford doesn't have the sweeping, grand feel I was expecting from a novel billed as a Downton Abbey cast of characters meets Out of Africa. In fact, the parts that do take place in Kenya seemed to go by quite quickly and I never had a strong sense of place when the characters were in Africa. The late 20th century story tied up in a way that you can see coming from the very first chapter.

Oddly enough, none of these quibbles really distracted me from the pleasure of reading the book and I got through it in a matter of a few reading sessions. I think most readers will find a lot to enjoy as The Ashford Affair - it's the kind of guilty-pleasure, "no what you're in for" kind of read that can be a lot of fun.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you enjoy her other books you should like this one too 6 April 2013
By Avid Reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Willig does her usual part of the story in the past, part in the present and constantly moving between the parts. Her characters in this book are well drawn, perhaps more so than in her Pink Carnation series, which made this book even better. It all takes place in the 20th century from around WWI and shortly thereafter to the present. The story moves from present day Manhattan to a coffee plantation in Kenya to high society in England in the teens and 20s. Clemmie, the modern day heroine is on the fast track, driven to attain partnership at a law firm while missing out on life and love. She finds family secrets and uncovers romance along the way.
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