Key Tags: 1920's, Africa, Kenya, Family Relationships, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance
First, a disclaimer. Lauren Willig's Pink Carnation series is one of my favorite series. It's a fun blend of historical fiction, chick lit and historical romantic suspense. So I eagerly looked forward to Ms Willig's first foray into straight historical fiction (no humorous chick lit and no stereotypical historic romance scenes in this book) and purchased it at full price shortly after publication in 2013. I actually found it to be a bit of a slog and only got a third of the way into it ... and then just stopped. But not being willing to just give up on a book by one of my favorite authors and call this a DNF, I hung onto the book and recently decided to give The Ashford Affair another chance. And I'm so glad that I did ....
I found reading this novel much more enjoyable this time around. Don't know what the problem was the first time. Maybe I was expecting it to be like a Pink Carnation book. But the only resemblance between The Ashford Affair and the Pink Carnation novels is that they are all time-slip historicals and England is one of the settings of the books. That's it. And although there are key romance sub-plots in the Ashford Affair, it's not a romance novel. I once read a horrible historical mystery set in 1920s Kenya that led me to believe that life for the British aristocracy there was all bed-hopping extra-marital affairs and partying with copious amounts of alcohol and cocaine. The Ashford Affair gave me a much broader and I'm sure more accurate picture of life in Kenya in the 20s - delving more into the life on a coffee farm and the native population. And I found the relationship between Addie and her cousin Bea to be very real. Neither was all bad or all good. They were like sisters, and similar to most sisters they had a loving but complicated relationship.
I call Lauren Willig's first straight historical fiction novel a success! I don't think it ranks among the best in the time-slip historical genre (a few of those being Those Who Saved Us by Jenna Blum and the Labyrinth by Kate Mosse IMO), but it's very solid .. and I've put myself on the waitlist for her next historical novel - also of the time-slip genre.