In 1906, two British cousins swear a bond of sisterhood unaware of how the aftermath of World War I will divide them. In the U.S., on the eve of the new millennium, overworked lawyer Clemmie Evans learns of family secrets which cause her to question her identity and future. She learns the tale of two British cousins divided by loss and betrayal: a tale which crosses decades and continents to affect the present…
When reading The Ashford Affair, I felt like I was in World War I era England, 1920s Kenya and 1990s New York. Willig provides descriptions and interactions between her characters that make the reader feel like they are in another time and place. For instance, to pull the reader into post World War I London she does a wonderful job of describing the nightlife: chaotically going from place to place, people laughing at jokes that aren’t really funny and little details such as confections called Turkish Delight that really taste “like turpentine mixed with raspberry jam” (pg. 153). The reader gets a feeling of people mindlessly trying one thing after another to escape. A conversation between Addie, one of the cousins, and Frederick, who fought in the war, reinforces this impression. Addie states the nightlife scene is a lie. Frederick responds the time period now is merely a break between the horror of the war and the horror of the next one.
I was curious throughout the book to learn how the story of the two cousins, Addie and Bea, would play out and what choices Clemmie would make. As Clemmie uncovered the truth I wondered what had happened to cause events to play out that way. I wondered at the choices she would make. The Ashford Affair is a great read for those wanting to step in other times and places and/or read a tale of dramatic tale of family secrets.
Want to read more or have to wait for The Ashford Affair?
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby also vividly brings the 1920s to life through a tale of love and betrayal. This tale takes place in the U.S., but it fits in with the lifestyle portrayed in The Ashford Affair.
A Spear of Summer Grass by Deanna Raybourn also gives the reader a chance to journey into 1920s Kenya.
Want some nonfiction tales taking place in Kenya? The Bolter by Frances Osborne tells the story of an English woman who left her husband and children for life in Kenya. (This story was the inspiration for The Ashford Affair). Another nonfiction tale partially taking place in Kenya is Too Close to the Sun: The Audacious Life and Times of Denys Finch Hatton by Sara Wheeler. This is the story of an English Aristocrat who arrives in Africa in 1910 and makes a splash on the scene with his love for the country and his love affairs.
Want to learn more about Britain in the aftermath of World War I? Books such as D.J. Taylor’s Bright Young People: The Lost Generation of London’s Jazz Age can provide more information.