Saturday, January 27, 2018

The English Wife - Historical Fiction Review

Rating: I Liked It
Source: Publisher

Annabelle and Bayard Van Duyvil live a charmed life: he’s the scion of an old Knickerbocker family, she grew up in a Tudor manor in England, they had a whirlwind romance in London, they have three year old twins on whom they dote, and he’s recreated her family home on the banks of the Hudson and renamed it Illyria. Yes, there are rumors that she’s having an affair with the architect, but rumors are rumors and people will gossip. But then Bayard is found dead with a knife in his chest on the night of their Twelfth Night Ball, Annabelle goes missing, presumed drowned, and the papers go mad. Bay’s sister, Janie, forms an unlikely alliance with a reporter to uncover the truth, convinced that Bay would never have killed his wife, that it must be a third party, but the more she learns about her brother and his wife, the more everything she thought she knew about them starts to unravel. Who were her brother and his wife, really? And why did her brother die with the name George on his lips?

Genre: Fiction - Historical

Why I Picked This Book:
  I loved another book by Lauren Willig (The Other Daughter) and this one sounded intriguing.

My Impression:

What I Loved:
Seeing Janie develop a backbone and while not necessarily standing up to her mother but at least doing things because she wanted to do them.

Watching the relationship between Janie and Burke develop and their initial impressions of the other be proved wrong.

The setting.  Oh how I love Gilded Age New York with all the tension between the old society and the new moneyed set.

The friendship between Bay and Georgie.  They were both used to dealing with people who expected something from them or for them to be people they weren't.  It was nice to watch them develop a friendship by just being who they were.

What I Didn't Like
The pacing.  While I did get caught up in the story it seemed to drag a bit at the beginning.

It was a little convoluted.  There are 2 timelines and multiple mysteries going on.  I was good with how it worked out but it was a little hazy at time.

This was a good heavy atmospheric read with a gorgeous setting and all kinds of Gothic-y darkness lurking in the corners.  While I had a few issues I still enjoyed the reading experience and am looking forward to trying more from Lauren Willig.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?
  Absolutely!  I definitely want to read more of what she's already published and will be keeping an eye out for new releases.

Would I Recommend this Book?
  I would  - especially if you enjoy Gothic novels like Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca.  


  1. I think I read a few of her Pink Carnation books and liked them. Haven't read anything of her for some years now. Too many other books! LOL

  2. Well I am not a gothic reader but would most likely cope with this. However sounds like I need to keep pencil and paper on my lap to make notes to help me keep track. That's what I do until I have it straight, usually taking less as I go along, but I have them to refer to if I get lost.

  3. A great review, Katherine - and this one caught my eye - especially your comparison with Rebecca, which is one of my favourite alltime books:).

  4. I am glad you enjoyed this one, Katherine, even if you didn't love it. I have this on my TBR pile to read--hopefully soon. I do like that it has a lot of atmosphere and a great setting.

  5. This is an author that I do want to read. This one sounds good so maybe I will pick it up at some point.

  6. I've been on the fence about reading this title. I enjoyed another of the author's books so perhaps someday. Probably in audio. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  7. This is one that's been on my list, my big fat notebook listing so many books I want to read! I liked your review and will get to this one eventually.

  8. Sounds pretty good even with the little issues. I think I actually have one of hers floating around here somewhere. Will have to keep an eye out :)