Thursday, January 18, 2018

Review: The English Wife by Lauren Willig (audio)

Title: The English Wife
Author: Lauren Willig
Narrator: Barrie Kreinik
Published: January 2018, MacMillan Audio / St. Martin's Press
Length: 14 hours 52 minutes / 384 pages
Source: Audio - Personal copy via Audible / Print - ARC Paperback via Publisher

From the New York Times bestselling author, Lauren Willig, comes this scandalous New York Gilded Age novel full of family secrets, affairs, and even murder.
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? 

My thoughts: I have read a few books by Lauren Willig and always find myself completely myself completely wrapped up in her stories. This latest one is set during the Gilded Age and is scandalous and suspenseful all at the same time. 

I love the characters that Lauren creates - they are all so well-drawn that you can't help but find yourself completely engaged in their tale. In this case, there are some really good characters and then there are some deliciously devious characters - and at times, it is sometimes hard to figure out which side they are on. Let's just mention the mother here...she's overly domineering and hard to like, but she is quite memorable for sure!

The story is told from two timelines that end up converging at the end. I loved this - I found myself equally engaged in both and desperately trying to figure out how and where it would all end up. The mystery really keeps you on your toes, especially as clues are slowly revealed. The added family secrets only heightened the suspense and give the story more depth. This is definitely a case of things not quite being what they seem. 

I really enjoyed this book - I found myself completely captivated from the beginning and loved the setting. I even learned a few things about the area where the story took place. I never knew that "Kill" was the dutch word for river...hence all the names of the towns along the Hudson River that have the name "Kill" in it - Peekskill, Fishkill, etc. I've lived in NY almost all my life and I never knew that. That's what I love about reading in general and reading historical fiction specially - I feel I always learn something new!

Audio thoughts: Despite the fact that I had a print copy of this book, I decided to go the audio route and what a great decision that was. While Barrie Kreinik is a new narrator to me, and I wasn't sure what to expect from her, I need not have worried - she did a great job narrating this book. She gave each character their own unique voice and the characters just came alive under her narration. This was a great book to lose oneself in and the audio did just that for me.



  1. This sounds complicated and good.

  2. Kristin,
    I'm glad that you enjoyed listening to this book. It sounds captivating. Audio books like this one are wonderfully entertaining. I love to be "read to" in this manner. Terrific review!

  3. Deliciously devious - love that description, sounds like a great audiobook to add to my future listening.


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