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The English Wife

The English Wife, January 2018
by Lauren Willig

St. Martin's Press
Featuring: Bayard Van Duyvil; Annabelle; Janie
384 pages
ISBN: 1250056276
EAN: 9781250056276
Kindle: B072TY6MS6
Hardcover / e-Book
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"Gothic Whodunit With A Twist"

Fresh Fiction Review

The English Wife
Lauren Willig

Reviewed by Susan Gorman
Posted January 21, 2018

Thriller Historical

The first chapter in THE ENGLISH WIFE draws the reader into the story immediately. Bay Van Duyvil, the novel's hero, is murdered and his wife, Annabelle is presumed dead. The murders take place during a Twelfth Night masked ball at the couple's home located on the banks of the Hudson River. Bay and Annabelle were murdered while their guests were dancing and drinking champagne.

The dual narrative technique enables author Lauren Willig to bring the characters of Bay and Annabelle Van Duyvil to life. Understanding the couple's romance is important to the plot, and each chapter devoted to them adds depth to the intriguing storyline. I adored Bay and Annabelle and their devotion to each other. Janie Van Duyvil's desire for the truth about her brother's murder moves the present day storyline forward.

Janie forges a secret alliance with reporter James Burke to see past the scandal and piece together what happened to her brother. This act of courage drew me into the story as the aristocracy did not socialize outside of their social class. I enjoyed that Janie remained steadfast in her pursuit of the truth despite the disapproval from her domineering mother. As Burke uncovers secrets from the past, Janie starts to unravel her brother and sister-in-law's complicated history. Janie's self-confidence grows during the novel, and I loved that she was able to finally stand up to her mother.

Lauren Willig effortlessly blends the elements of suspense, intrigue, and romance throughout the novel. I enjoyed the characters, the references to Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and the author's subtle commentary on the social standards of the day. The pacing of The English Wife is superb. The last few chapters of this classic gothic whodunit are filled with suspense and intrigue as each character, and their truth is unmasked. The tension in these plot-driven chapters was heightened because the main characters were snowed in at Bay and Annabelle's empty gothic style home during a blizzard. It's freezing inside the home because there is no coal and the main characters—all of the murder suspects—are forced to spend time together in one small room. Burke arrives with surprising new information about one of the suspects....this information changes the course of the story. These chapters kept me guessing and reading past my bedtime! The conclusion is fabulous! I must admit I did not see the big reveal---I had someone else pegged as the murderer.

If you are looking for a suspenseful mystery with intriguing characters, you will love THE ENGLISH WIFE, a real page-turner!

Learn more about The English Wife


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

Annabelle and Bayard Van Duyvil live a charmed life in New York: 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?

What do you think about this review?


1 comment posted.

Re: Gothic Whodunit With A Twist

A new take on two genres. Thanks.
(Kathleen Bylsma 3:41pm January 22, 2018)

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