From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Willig comes The Ashford Affair, a page-turning novel about two women in different eras, and on different continents, who are connected by one deeply buried secret.
A New York Times best seller!
As a lawyer in a large Manhattan firm, just shy of making partner, Clementine Evans has finally achieved almost everything she’s been working towards—but now she’s not sure it’s enough. Her long hours have led to a broken engagement and, suddenly single at thirty-four, she feels her messy life crumbling around her. But when the family gathers for her grandmother Addie’s ninety-ninth birthday, a relative lets slip hints about a long-buried family secret, leading Clemmie on a journey into the past that could change everything. . . .
Growing up at Ashford Park in the early twentieth century, Addie has never quite belonged. When her parents passed away, she was taken into the grand English house by her aristocratic aunt and uncle, and raised side-by-side with her beautiful and outgoing cousin, Bea. Though they are as different as night and day, Addie and Bea are closer than sisters, through relationships and challenges, and a war that changes the face of Europe irrevocably. But what happens when something finally comes along that can’t be shared? When the love of sisterhood is tested by a bond that’s even stronger?
From the inner circles of British society to the skyscrapers of Manhattan and the red-dirt hills of Kenya, the never-told secrets of a woman and a family unfurl.
Lauren Willig is also the author of the New York Times bestselling Pink Carnation series and a RITA Award-winner for Best Regency Historical for The Mischief of Mistletoe. She graduated from Yale University, and has a graduate degree in English history from Harvard and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. She lives in New York City, where she now writes full time.
A British voice actress with over a decade of experience, Nicola Barber has won two Earphone Awards from AudioFile Magazine for her audio book narration and has recorded national radio spots for Verizon Wireless, Virgin Airlines, and Hilton Hotels, as well as a national TV commercial for Oatmeal Crisp. She specializes in commercials, corporate videos, audiobooks, phone systems, and training videos. Nicola has narrated over a dozen audio books for authors such as Barbara Taylor Bradford and Maureen Johnson.
1. Addie wants “her” girls to have the chances their mother didn’t; Marjorie, in turn, pushes Clemmie to focus on work, rather than marrying young like she did. How do their ambitions impact their children? What role does the weight of familial expectations play in shaping the major characters in this novel? Have there been times in your life when you’ve felt constrained or propelled by your parents’ wishes?
2. Addie and Bea love each other dearly, in their own way, but neither really understands what makes the other tick. Do you think their friendship is an unhealthy one? Do you have legacy friends from your childhood with whom you have a similar dynamic?
3. In The Ashford Affair, we see Bea and Addie on either side of World War I, a moment of huge social and cultural change. How does that changing landscape affect the lives of these two characters? What do you think would have happened to them both if World War I hadn’t intervened?
4. Ashford Park has a powerful hold on both Addie and Bea, so much so that Bea names her home in exile “Ashford Redux”. What do you think Ashford represents to each of them?
5. In the case of both Addie and Frederick, and Clemmie and Jon, it takes two tries for true love to conquer all; Clemmie comments at one point that if she and Jon had gotten together the first time, they would probably have broken up, that they were too young. What do you think might have happened if Clemmie and Jon had dated after Rome, or if Addie and Frederick hadn’t been derailed by Bea? Would those relationships have been very different from the ones they eventually achieve? Why or why not?
6. Both in England and in Kenya, Bea feels betrayed by the difference between what she’s led to expect from life and what she receives. She complains that she wasn’t trained for this new world. Do you have sympathy for her? Have there been times when you’ve felt the same way, or known people who have?
7. In the 1920s, large numbers of Europeans moved to Africa, seeing it as a place of hope and opportunity, a place to make one’s fortune or to get away from the memories of the Great War. Frederick, Bea and Addie all find very different things in Kenya. What does Kenya mean to each of them? Does it matter that it’s Kenya, or would the same story have played out anywhere?
8. The world of Bea, Frederick and Addie in Kenya is essentially the English aristocracy transplanted to the African landscape. None of them questions his or her right to make a home there or to use native labor. Does the colonial aspect of this bother you or make you think less of them? Or is it simply a reflection of the times?
9. Addie makes some choices in the novel that ripple down through history to deeply impact her loved ones. She decides not to tell Marjorie and Anna that Bea was still alive. Do you think this was the right or wrong thing to do? Why? Do you sympathize with Addie and Marjorie’s decision not to tell Clemmie about her real relationship with Addie? How might the story have been different if these two decisions had gone the other way?
10. After finishing the novel, what do you think of Bea? Do you find her sympathetic? Unlikeable? What did you think happened to her – and were you surprised when you learned that she was still alive?
11. Clemmie comments at the end of the novel that her grandmothers—both of them—lived through so much, while her generation has been ridiculously sheltered. Do you think that’s true in general or just true of her? Were the World War I and II generations really tougher and more daring or do we just perceive it that way?
12. Clemmie’s sense of self is shaken by learning the truth about her family. Do you think she overreacts? How would you respond to a similar revelation? Have you ever learned something about your family that has shaken you?
“The Ashford Affair is a reader’s treat, an artfully-woven saga that sweeps us into the lives of three generations of a family entangled in life-changing secrets. Lauren Willig spins a web of lust, power and loss, taking us from England to Kenya to New York, from World War I to today’s modern world, posing a timeless question: what in our own family stories might surprise or shock – or change our lives – if we had access to the whispers from the past?” —Kate Alcott, New York Times bestselling author of The Dressmaker
“There are few authors who make you want to take a day off from life to devour their latest book, but Lauren Willig is one of them. The Ashford Affair is absolutely impossible to put down!” —Michelle Moran, bestselling author of Madame Tussaud
“Rich with detail and historical imagination, The Ashford Affair evokes the lives and passions of the interwar era with harrowing precision. The enthralling mystery kept me up late into the night, and the characters will remain with me forever. Lauren Willig has delivered a stunning masterpiece.” —Beatriz Williams, author of Overseas
“With The Ashford Affair, Lauren Willig crafts a lavishly detailed saga readers will devour.” —Deanna Raybourn, New York Times bestselling author of The Dark Enquiry
The Ashford Affair was published on April 9, 2013.The The Ashford Affair Audiobook is 2225 hours. Speechify has the Unabridged edition version of the audiobook.
Both the publication language and the narration language are in English.
The Ashford Affair includes the following subjects: Sagas. The BISAC Subject Code is Fiction, Historical.
The author of The Ashford Affair is Lauren Willig. LAUREN WILLIG is the author of the New York Times bestselling Pink Carnation series and a RITA Award-winner for Best Regency Historical for The Mischief of Mistletoe. She graduated from Yale University, and has a graduate degree in English history from Harvard and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. She lives in New York City, where she now writes full time.
The narrator for the The Ashford Affair Audiobook is Nicola Barber.