Book Review: The English Wife by Lauren Willig

The English WifeAnnabelle 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:

Not long after the war between the states were over, New York City boomed in the Gilded Age era and there was a wide line of class distinctions. In modern day standards, life of the rich during that period is a deep fascination for many, including myself.  Newspapers and journalism really took off during that time and in their view, the rich were ripe for the picking!  When I think of that era in New York, I think of shimmering lights, Gothic style mansions, slums of the poor, immigration, the American dream and high-society. Did the author of The English Wife capture this in her story? At first, I wasn’t feeling it but as the story development I began to see glimpses of the era come to life and in this story, not everything was as it seemed.

There certainly were a few twists and turns in the story and I have to admit, I didn’t see what was coming. I love that in a story! I wasn’t expecting to have a deep sense of empathy for Annabelle and Bayard but I did. Their family was the crème of society and they certainly suffered for it. Bayard sister, Janie, moved me the most and she was an example of feeling suffocation by living with strict rules of high society. They all were really…

City life in New York and the elitists were a contradictory crowd to say the least and the author of this story captures that. I will say this, I don’t recommend reading the prologue before diving in the first chapter. It was confusing and a bit all over the place. I made a mistake in doing so and I was really worrying I wasn’t going to like the story. This is a great murder mystery story and I will be adding more stories from the author to my reading list.

I rated this book three stars.

I obtained a eARC of this book through NetGalley from the Publishers for an honest review.

Stephanie M. Hopkins


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