The English Wife
Book Review - The English Wife by Lauren Willig
I selected The English Wife by Lauren Willig for my December Book of the Month - gosh was it really that long ago? My BOTM choice often get pushed to the side when I commit to reviewing a book for an author or publisher. But I'm glad that I finally got around to reading this one - well actually listening to it. Sometimes when I get behind on books I end up listening to them via Audible. I have a four hour drive (each way) for work every two weeks so I get through many books that way. And what better way to pass the time than listening to a really good book?!
On the surface, it seems that the two main characters in The English Wife, Annabelle and Bayard Van Duyvil, live a charmed life. Annabelle grew up in a picturesque Tudor manor in England (she IS the English Wife, after all) and her husband had her beloved home recreated just for her in New York. Bay was considered the most eligible bachelor in New York before he married Annabelle: handsome, charming, wealthy. They have three-year-old twins - a seemingly perfect family of four. But on the night of their Twelfth Night Ball, Bay is found murdered with a knife in his chest and Annabelle is missing, presumed drowned. Bay's sister is determined to find out what happened to her brother and sister-in-law and forms an alliance with a reporter. They make a pact to discover the truth, however unsavory in may be.
The book was narrated by Barrie Kreinik and I think she did a wonderful job portraying the many different characters and their varying accents. The more I listen to books on Audible, the more I appreciate a really good narrator. I was once speaking to an older woman at a luncheon and she said that due to bad eyesight she listens to most of her books these days and that once she finds a narrator she likes, she chooses more books based on the narrator than the author. I hadn't really thought of that but I can see how that would be a great way to select a good book! Something to consider...
I absolutely adored reading about the late Victorian era - the 1880s and 1890s. Oddly, I've been choosing a lot of books written about this era - purely by accident. But the more I read about it, the more I'm enjoying it! I thought the balance between historical fiction and mystery was spot-on. Lauren had great descriptions of dress and architecture throughout the book that kept the fashion historian in me quite entertained. If you prefer one of these genres over the other but want to expand your horizons, this is a great mix of the two genres and may be a good foray into new book territories.