The English Wife
From the New York Times bestselling author, Lauren Willig, comes this scandalous New York Gilded Age novel full of family secrets, affairs, and even murder.Annabelle and Bayard Van Duyvil live a charmed life: 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?

The English Wife Details

TitleThe English Wife
Author
ReleaseJan 9th, 2018
PublisherSt. Martin's Press
ISBN-139781250056276
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Fiction

The English Wife Review

  • Holly B
    January 1, 1970
    I found the characters confusing and the plot was hard to follow. I liked the premise of a gothic mystery set in the New York gilded age, but it didn't live up to my expectations. I enjoyed some parts, but the flow was not working for me.It begins with Bayard Van Duyvil found with a knife in his chest on the night of a Ball at his family home. I thought this mystery would be center in the plot and that suspects would be drawn out and examined, but there were too many side stories and discussions I found the characters confusing and the plot was hard to follow. I liked the premise of a gothic mystery set in the New York gilded age, but it didn't live up to my expectations. I enjoyed some parts, but the flow was not working for me.It begins with Bayard Van Duyvil found with a knife in his chest on the night of a Ball at his family home. I thought this mystery would be center in the plot and that suspects would be drawn out and examined, but there were too many side stories and discussions of how family members met years before. It felt disconnected and the big reveal at the end was disappointing and honestly not at all worth reading nearly 400 pages to get too.The book was too long, too confusing, too many side stories and had too many characters with similar names...George, Georgiana, Georgie, Giles, Georgina....honestly.I was hoping for a gothic mystery with a historic setting, but was ultimately disappointed. The book has some very high ratings, so you might want to read those if you are interesting in giving it a go!Thanks to St. Martins Press and Netgalley for my ARC. Pub. date is Jan.9,2018
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  • Carrie
    January 1, 1970
    Bayard Van Duyvil and his wife Annabelle seemed to be living such a charmed life when one night Bay is found dead with a knife in his chest and Annabelle is nowhere to be found. With Annabelle thought to be drowned and a murderer to be found the press is all over the story of how this privileged couple ended up the way that they did on that fateful night. Bay's sister Janie is convinced that someone out there killed her brother and did harm to his wife and is determined to find out what happened Bayard Van Duyvil and his wife Annabelle seemed to be living such a charmed life when one night Bay is found dead with a knife in his chest and Annabelle is nowhere to be found. With Annabelle thought to be drowned and a murderer to be found the press is all over the story of how this privileged couple ended up the way that they did on that fateful night. Bay's sister Janie is convinced that someone out there killed her brother and did harm to his wife and is determined to find out what happened. Janie forms an alliance with a reporter to uncover the truth of that night. With rumors flying all around of affairs and murder everything Janie thinks she knew starts to unravel. The English Wife by Lauren Willig is a historical fiction novel with a bit of a mystery and a touch of romance within the pages. The story is told by alternating looks into the past to build the charactrers and their story that led to that night along with keeping up with the events in their current time of 1899. For me this was one that I really wanted to love but unfortunately found myself struggling to connect and enjoy leaving me rating this at 2.5 stars. The biggest problem in my mind was simply the pacing was so incredibly slow with a lot of randomness added in that didn't feel necessary in my opinion. Also it was a bit tough to connect to characters when struggling to remember who was who with a lot of them similarly named. This one just ended up not my cup of tea unfortunately but others just may enjoy the slow burn mystery. I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.wordpress....
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  • Heidi The Hippie Reader
    January 1, 1970
    The year is 1899. The Van Duyvils are an extraordinarily wealthy and established family in New York. One night, at a holiday party, there is a murder... or is it a suicide?The newspapers whip the public into a fury with their sensational headlines. They ask, 'Who are the Van Duyvils and who is the new English wife?'And there, our story begins.Lauren Willig has created a lovely mystery/historical fiction with snappy dialogue and enough layers to keep readers guessing to the very end.I loved Janie The year is 1899. The Van Duyvils are an extraordinarily wealthy and established family in New York. One night, at a holiday party, there is a murder... or is it a suicide?The newspapers whip the public into a fury with their sensational headlines. They ask, 'Who are the Van Duyvils and who is the new English wife?'And there, our story begins.Lauren Willig has created a lovely mystery/historical fiction with snappy dialogue and enough layers to keep readers guessing to the very end.I loved Janie Van Duyvil, one of the main characters in this tale "There were times when she wished she had been born a male, that she might make her own way, that she might marry as she pleased and live as she would." loc 45, ebook.As she desperately tries to piece together the clues to find the murderer, Janie also comes into her own and begins to stand up to her tyrannical mother."It is her marriage," Georgie pointed out drily. "Surely, she has some say." "If you can think that, you haven't met my mother." loc 1179, ebookI also enjoyed the role of the press in this story. James Burke is a reporter for 'The News of the World.' He wants to get the scoop on the murders. But, part of his job, is to sell papers. "The man had the gall to widen his eyes in innocence. "We prefer to call it investigative reporting, Miss Van Duyvil." "I call it scandal-mongering, pure and simple." loc 252, ebook.My favorite scene is when Janie goes to 'The News of the World' building and readers get a glimpse into the crazy newsroom. "There was an undeniable energy to the room, the clacking typewriters, the shouting voices, that put energy into her step and color in her cheek." What fun.Willig seems to have a handle on what makes reporters tick. She even captures the gallow's humor that they use to maintain their sanity. "Will it appear in an illustrated supplement in The World?" "Not unless there's a body hidden there." Mr. Bruke grimaced. "Sorry. In the newsroom, we... well, the worse it is, the more of a joke we make it. It's a way to get through the day without being sick." loc 2765, ebook.Recommended for readers who want to lose themselves in a mystery with some romance along the way, The English Wife may just fit the bill.Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for an advance digital copy of this book. Reminder: the brief quotations in this review may vary from the final printed form.
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  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
    January 1, 1970
    4 scandalous, intriguing stars to The English Wife 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 The English Wife was off to a slow start for me, but once it picked up, I was glued to it. The Gilded Age is one of my favorite time periods, and instantly this book reminded me of a favorite book that Lauren Willig co-authored with Karen White and Beatriz Williams, The Forgotten Room. Bay and Annabelle Van Duyvil appear to have it all, but when one of them is found murdered and the other is missing, all bets are off. Janie, Bay’s sister 4 scandalous, intriguing stars to The English Wife 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 The English Wife was off to a slow start for me, but once it picked up, I was glued to it. The Gilded Age is one of my favorite time periods, and instantly this book reminded me of a favorite book that Lauren Willig co-authored with Karen White and Beatriz Williams, The Forgotten Room. Bay and Annabelle Van Duyvil appear to have it all, but when one of them is found murdered and the other is missing, all bets are off. Janie, Bay’s sister, sought the truth about what happened and befriended an unlikely ally, a news reporter. Janie was, in fact, my favorite character, as I watched her grow into her own, despite an overbearing and cold mother. While the ending wasn’t what I wanted to happen, it suited the storyline. Overall, a tantalizingly suspenseful historical! I binge read this one! Thank you to Lauren Willig, St. Martins Press, and Netgalley, for the opportunity to read and review this ARC. The English Wife will be published on January 9, 2018.
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  • Marialyce
    January 1, 1970
    It is the gilded age where money, power and prestige reign. Called such by the author Mark Twain, it was a period that dated from the 1870's until about the early 1900's. It was a time of amassing great wealth and the people who populated this age had last names like Astor, Carnegie, and Vanderbilt.In all this luxury and unlimited money live Bayard and Annabelle VanDuyvil. They seem to have it all, he being part of an old Dutch family and she growing up in an English Manor in England. They met i It is the gilded age where money, power and prestige reign. Called such by the author Mark Twain, it was a period that dated from the 1870's until about the early 1900's. It was a time of amassing great wealth and the people who populated this age had last names like Astor, Carnegie, and Vanderbilt.In all this luxury and unlimited money live Bayard and Annabelle VanDuyvil. They seem to have it all, he being part of an old Dutch family and she growing up in an English Manor in England. They met in London, fall in love, and marry returning to New York and the VanDuyvil way of life. Twins are born to the couple and though there are rumors of an affair between Annabelle and an architect hired to design a home just like the one Annabelle grew up in, things seem to be tense but life seems to be going forward. As we know in life what seems to be is not always what is true.Bayard, at the coming out ball for the new home, is found murdered and Annabelle is the likely culprit since she is missing. This is high society and of course the newspapers go nuts with the headlines and stories, many of which are not true. Bayard's sister, Janie meets and starts to confide in a newspaper reporter. They pledge to one another to speak only what is the truth and a friendship forms between these two separated by society views. As his investigation continues, Janie learns more and more about her brother and the woman he married. Janie is constantly thwarted by her mother, a denizen of high society who never permits anything that she considers untoward occurring and has a cold nature. The mother is not bendable, clearly believing in herself and her moral ways. She imposes her views and her stringent ways on all her family including a niece, Anne who lives with them. Who really are Bayard and Annabelle? Are things really as they seem to be? This family carries secrets, deep ones, that will eventually bring them to ruin and death and be the headline grabbers that Mrs VanDuyvil fears. This was a riveting story told with a Gothic flair that keep the reader quite engaged as the truth is finally revealed and the killer brought to poetic justice.Thank you to NetGalley and St Martin's Press for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an unbiased review.
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  • Rachel
    January 1, 1970
    If I were prone to feeling guilt over enjoying the things I enjoy, I would classify this as a guilty pleasure book. This is more a nineteenth century soap opera of a novel than a literary gothic mystery, so you'll do well to check those expectations of a second coming of Rebecca at the door before starting The English Wife. But I have no reservations at all saying that I loved this. Sure, the writing is occasionally sophomoric; characters let out breaths they didn't realize they'd been holding; If I were prone to feeling guilt over enjoying the things I enjoy, I would classify this as a guilty pleasure book. This is more a nineteenth century soap opera of a novel than a literary gothic mystery, so you'll do well to check those expectations of a second coming of Rebecca at the door before starting The English Wife. But I have no reservations at all saying that I loved this. Sure, the writing is occasionally sophomoric; characters let out breaths they didn't realize they'd been holding; the word 'belied' is used approximately eight thousand times; the dialogue is often trite and heavy-handed, but for whatever reason, I found myself not caring. I was swept away by this incredibly well-crafted mystery that blends suspense and romance with the vibrant atmospheres of Victorian England and Gilded Age New York.The novel begins at a ball in upstate New York in 1899, when wealthy socialite Bayard van Duyvil is found with a knife in his chest, and his wife, Annabelle, has vanished, presumed dead. There are two point of views in this book - that of Bay's wife, in flashbacks, and his sister, Janie, in the present. Both were compelling heroines who I found myself rooting for wholeheartedly. This is the kind of book where every character has secrets, and uncovering them all is a highly entertaining process. Some of the twists are excellent, others are rather predictable, but it's an undeniably twisty ride from start to finish. And getting to the bottom of the identity of the novel's central character, Annabelle, was the most compelling element for me.Bottom line: this book was fun and enthralling enough to compensate for its many flaws. Highly recommended for anyone looking for somewhat mindless Victorian escapism.
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  • Sheila
    January 1, 1970
    4 stars--I really liked it.This is a gothic romance in the vein of Rebecca--lots of atmosphere, human cruelty, and family secrets, but no supernatural happenings. It's also quite sad.It's been a long time since I read a historical novel, and this really brought the Gilded Age to life. Characters were finely drawn (and not static!), and I especially liked doomed Annabelle and clever Janie. The plot kept me reading (and guessing) until the end.There are lots of allusions to Shakespeare's comedies 4 stars--I really liked it.This is a gothic romance in the vein of Rebecca--lots of atmosphere, human cruelty, and family secrets, but no supernatural happenings. It's also quite sad.It's been a long time since I read a historical novel, and this really brought the Gilded Age to life. Characters were finely drawn (and not static!), and I especially liked doomed Annabelle and clever Janie. The plot kept me reading (and guessing) until the end.There are lots of allusions to Shakespeare's comedies in this book--ironic since it's a tragedy. I received this review copy from the publisher on NetGalley. Thanks for the opportunity to read and review; I appreciate it!
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  • Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
    January 1, 1970
    FULL REVIEW WILL BE ON JANUARY 10, 2018."THE ENGLISH WIFE was very proper, and the characters were portrayed as very proper as was expected in the 1800's, but were some who they said they were?THE ENGLISH WIFE was difficult to connect with at first, but then the book became difficult to put down.The ending revelations will be "burning" in your thoughts and have you wanting to talk about the book with everyone.If you enjoy the 1800's, drama of privileged families, mystery, and secrets, THE ENGLIS FULL REVIEW WILL BE ON JANUARY 10, 2018."THE ENGLISH WIFE was very proper, and the characters were portrayed as very proper as was expected in the 1800's, but were some who they said they were?THE ENGLISH WIFE was difficult to connect with at first, but then the book became difficult to put down.The ending revelations will be "burning" in your thoughts and have you wanting to talk about the book with everyone.If you enjoy the 1800's, drama of privileged families, mystery, and secrets, THE ENGLISH WIFE will be a late-into-the-night read. 4/5This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher, NetGalley, and Great Thought's Ninja Review Team. All opinions are my own."
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  • ☆Dani☆ ☆Touch My Spine Book Reviews☆
    January 1, 1970
     I loved the premise of this story and there was some great unexpected twists. This book had enjoyable characters and a good mystery. I also loved the romance.Now to the things I disliked; this book was really slow to me and super sad at points. Maybe it’s just because I am in a difficult place but this book could not hold my attention at times and just kind of made me feel down. I liked this book overall, I just wish it wasn’t so drawn out.I think some people who enjoy a nice historical read wo  I loved the premise of this story and there was some great unexpected twists. This book had enjoyable characters and a good mystery. I also loved the romance.Now to the things I disliked; this book was really slow to me and super sad at points. Maybe it’s just because I am in a difficult place but this book could not hold my attention at times and just kind of made me feel down. I liked this book overall, I just wish it wasn’t so drawn out.I think some people who enjoy a nice historical read would enjoy this book and I am interested in the author’s future works.
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  • Lyuda
    January 1, 1970
    The best way to keep someone was to let him go. Riveting mystery that left me guessing up until the end. Compelling and heartbreaking love story(s). The book should come with the warning: “Consumption of the product can lead to sleep deprivation”. My kindle is full of highlights. My eyes are full of what feels like sand from reading almost all night. You know the feeling: “one more chapter, one more chapter”. Marvelous writing, masterful characterization, beautifully constructed dialogue bring The best way to keep someone was to let him go. Riveting mystery that left me guessing up until the end. Compelling and heartbreaking love story(s). The book should come with the warning: “Consumption of the product can lead to sleep deprivation”. My kindle is full of highlights. My eyes are full of what feels like sand from reading almost all night. You know the feeling: “one more chapter, one more chapter”. Marvelous writing, masterful characterization, beautifully constructed dialogue brings to life what already is a fascinating time period- the Gilded Age. The only reason it’s not a 5-star for me is the ending which left couple of storylines unresolved. I hope the author writes a follow-up.January 1899. Annabelle and Bayard Van Duyvil are throwing a “Twelfth Night”-inspired ball for New York's 400 society celebrating their newly built home. The festive evening takes a tragic turn when Bayard (Bay) is discovered stabbed in the garden and Annabelle is missing. Bay’s last word was “George".KNICKERBOCKER MURDERS WIFE AND KILLS HIMSELF! MURDER AND SUICIDE ON THE HUDSON!While the scandal sheets can’t seem to decide if it was a murder-suicide by Bay (as revenge for his wife’s alleged affair with an architect), or a murder and escape by Annabelle (as revenge for her husband discovering said alleged affair), Bay’s sister, Janie, determined to find the truth. Nothing would bring her brother back but couldn’t she rescue the memory of him? The story alternates between two timelines that end up converging: 1899, as Janie seeks to find the truth behind the murders and the past, starting five years before, when Bay and Annabelle first met. I’m not a fan of dual stories/timelines as usually one story overpowers the other and leaves it in a dust as a placeholder. Not the case here. Both stories are compelling, interesting and ended up reinforcing each other.The story of Bay and Annabelle is beautiful, heartbreaking, shrouded with secrets revealing which would be major spoilers. Janie’s story is not only a story of uncovering these secrets but most importantly it is a discovery of self-worth for a woman who slowly comes in to her own from the pawns of her domineering mother and becomes a woman worthy of love and admiration.Highly recommended for historical fiction fans.Thanks to the publisher for providing an ARC through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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  • The Lit Bitch
    January 1, 1970
    I first fell in love with Lauren Willig with her Pink Carnation series but I never ventured into her other stand alone books because I simply liked her where she belonged—in the Pink Carnation series.Her Pink Carnation series was so fantastic and I didn’t want to spoil it with a stand alone book that was subpar, so I avoided anything by her that wasn’t the Pink Carnation series.That was until this stunning cover screamed READ ME! Just looking at this book promised something fantastic, especially I first fell in love with Lauren Willig with her Pink Carnation series but I never ventured into her other stand alone books because I simply liked her where she belonged—in the Pink Carnation series.Her Pink Carnation series was so fantastic and I didn’t want to spoil it with a stand alone book that was subpar, so I avoided anything by her that wasn’t the Pink Carnation series.That was until this stunning cover screamed READ ME! Just looking at this book promised something fantastic, especially for fall. I needed this book more than I knew and I was reminded exactly why I love Lauren Willig and why I need to get back to the Pink Carnation series!Admittedly, the prologue started off a little blah, until the last paragraph. I put it down and tried to go read something else but I kept going back to this book. That final paragraph of the prologue hooked me and I just needed to read the book already. So I abandoned the book I was going to read, in favor of this one.I was immediately sucked into a story about the rich and famous, family secrets, the promise of love, and of course murder. This book felt a little like Rebecca or some other gothic romance novel in the vein of Victoria Holt.There was something decidedly uneasy about the story from the get go. Clearly there were lies and family secrets that were probably best left unsaid and there was a sense of unease as some of the characters weren’t what they seemed….literally.I loved discovering this book. The character development was outstanding. I loved watching Janie slowly come in to her own and stand up to her mother. I also loved watching how Bay and Annabelle’s marriage changed and evolved. The secondary characters were equally scandalous and intriguing.This book had so much to recommend itself. Romance, murder, family secrets…..everything that make it the perfect fall read. I found myself reading late into the night and not anticipating all the little twists and turns in the story. I was so hooked by about 30% through and I found annoyed when I had to put it down for something as trivial as sleep!Willig’s writing is witty, charming, and captivating. I loved this book on so many levels and just reading her words made me remember why I love her novels. I left off on the Pink Carnation series after the 5th book because I felt a little underwhelmed but now that I have read this I am inspired to continue the series and possibly her other stand alone books.While this book was an easy 5 star for me, it wasn’t without it’s little flaws. Without giving too much away, I found that Annabelle’s plot rather unfinished and a big question mark. The last few chapters just left the audience hanging and I felt a little disappointed in that. I also didn’t like that Giles kind of became this ‘hero’ of sorts when so much had been put into casting him as the villain.As I said, this was the perfect fall read for me. Even though it’s not coming out until January 2018, you need to go pre order this book. You won’t be sorry! It was captivating and alluring, calling my name from my nightstand all hours of the day and night. Pre order it now….you’re welcome!See my full review here
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  • Book of the Month
    January 1, 1970
    Murder and Scandal in the Gilded AgeBy Judge Dana SchwartzA dazzling journey through the New York high society of the Gilded Age, where dresses and rumors are more important than politics, The English Wife drips with both Shakespeare references and near-pornographic descriptions of flapper-era fashion and well-appointed townhomes. It’s tempting to call this novel a mystery, but its scope is far wider than a whodunit: It’s a broad examination of culture and class at the turn of the twentieth cent Murder and Scandal in the Gilded AgeBy Judge Dana SchwartzA dazzling journey through the New York high society of the Gilded Age, where dresses and rumors are more important than politics, The English Wife drips with both Shakespeare references and near-pornographic descriptions of flapper-era fashion and well-appointed townhomes. It’s tempting to call this novel a mystery, but its scope is far wider than a whodunit: It’s a broad examination of culture and class at the turn of the twentieth century.Brayard Van Duyvil is the impressively-named prodigal son of a prominent New York family and heir to its massive fortune. After his scandalous death and the disappearance of his new young bride, Brayard’s sister, Janie, tries to uncover the truth. Was it a murder/suicide? A stranger who killed them both and ran off into the night? Or neither? Janie aligns herself with a young reporter and discovers secrets about her family that she never would have expected. Janie’s story alternates with another, five years earlier and told from the perspective of an actress who had befriended Brayard on a trip long ago. As the reader jumps back and forth between the stories, we become privy to a gradual drip of information that unfurls the central mystery.What makes this book truly unputdownable is Willig’s prose: clean and sharp, as if every sentence has been carved from a block of ice. Willig conjures a mood of candlelight and cobblestones, of heavy velvet dresses and newspapers with smeared print. It’s a bonbon of a book in the best way; in which every page feels like a secret indulgence, best read alone, curled up while wearing your most luxurious pajamas, or else while traveling by train to somewhere very far away.Read more at https://www.bookofthemonth.com/the-en...
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  • Barbara
    January 1, 1970
    It has been a few years since I read a book by Ms. Willig, but The English Wife reminds me of why I enjoyed her books so much. I love mysteries and historical fiction and this is both with a spot of romance too. The setting is Gilded Age in New York City, but the story starts out in London with Georgie a young actress struggling to get by on her own where she meets a charming American named Bay, short for Bayard. Fast forward a bit and we find Bay married to Annabelle a young English woman strug It has been a few years since I read a book by Ms. Willig, but The English Wife reminds me of why I enjoyed her books so much. I love mysteries and historical fiction and this is both with a spot of romance too. The setting is Gilded Age in New York City, but the story starts out in London with Georgie a young actress struggling to get by on her own where she meets a charming American named Bay, short for Bayard. Fast forward a bit and we find Bay married to Annabelle a young English woman struggling to be accepted by New York society, tongues gossiping about her and an affair they claim she's having with the architect building the replica of her childhood home, commissioned by her loving husband, Bay. When Bay ends up dead with a dagger in his chest at the ball to introduce society to their new home, Illyria, Annabelle is nowhere to be found. Bay's sister Janie takes it upon herself to find Bay's killer. I found myself transported to another era of parlors, poverty, betrayal, and secrets. I received an advance review copy of this book from the Great Thought's Ninja Review Team. All opinions are my own.
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  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    I received this from netgalley.com in exchange for a review. The book opens with Bayard Van Duyvil found murdered on the night of their Twelfth Night Ball and his English wife Annabelle is missing, presumed drowned. Bay's sister, Janie, is instrumental in solving the murder.Although the story had a nice 'gilt age' flavor, the book moved with ebbs and flows as the story is told, surging forward and then dragging back. 2.75☆ rounded up to 3☆
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  • Kristen Cook
    January 1, 1970
    This story has a lot of twists and turns that kept me interested in the book. I was not familiar with any of Willig's previous books. This book was also set in a time period that I am not as familiar with as many others. I received an advance review copy of this book from the Great Though's Ninja Review Team. All opinions are my own.
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  • Susan Peterson
    January 1, 1970
    The English Wife is a tantalizing, scandalous story; a masterful blend of suspense and historical fiction. I was completely engrossed from the very first page, completely and utterly surprised along the way! The characters in this book were so interesting, so full of life; they could have become caricatures, but instead were fully-fleshed out, complex and multi-layered. My favorite character was Janie, a mousey and demure character at the start who finds her voice through the twists and turns of The English Wife is a tantalizing, scandalous story; a masterful blend of suspense and historical fiction. I was completely engrossed from the very first page, completely and utterly surprised along the way! The characters in this book were so interesting, so full of life; they could have become caricatures, but instead were fully-fleshed out, complex and multi-layered. My favorite character was Janie, a mousey and demure character at the start who finds her voice through the twists and turns of this story. A gasp-out-loud heart-pounding book! I received an advance review copy of this book from the Great Thought's Ninja Review Team. All opinions are my own.
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  • Christine Moore
    January 1, 1970
    This wonderful book started out with a murder/suicide and went full throttle from there! I loved all the twists and turns throughout the book and the characters were great! Janie was my favorite and she found out how strong she was as the book went on. I received an advanced review copy of this book from The Great Thoughts Ninja Review Team. All opinions are my own.
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  • Aisling
    January 1, 1970
    A fantastic mystery/romance/period piece novel complete with issues of identity, heartbreak and love despite everything. This novel alternates in chapters between the 'present' discovery of a murder and its trial, and the past that led up to it. It is a story of two very different women who end up being sisters-in-law. Despite the repressive time for women and their respective difficulties, both characters grow. I love a plot that is so tightly woven that no other result could happen; Willig doe A fantastic mystery/romance/period piece novel complete with issues of identity, heartbreak and love despite everything. This novel alternates in chapters between the 'present' discovery of a murder and its trial, and the past that led up to it. It is a story of two very different women who end up being sisters-in-law. Despite the repressive time for women and their respective difficulties, both characters grow. I love a plot that is so tightly woven that no other result could happen; Willig does this beautifully. As the reader learns the pasts of several characters and the present conduct of others, they are caught up in the mystery. I'm a lifelong mystery reader but loved the twists and did not guess the ending. Really brilliant period detail and dialogue, a superbly crafted mystery, and gut wrenching plots. Five enthusiastic stars
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  • Susan Johnson
    January 1, 1970
    Bay Van Duyvil, a wealthy heir to a New York family, is found murdered at a house warming in 1899. His English wife, Annabelle, is missing. Is she another a victim or did she murder him and flee the scene leaving their twin children behind? This is the mystery and the story is told mostly in flashbacks. We learn how Bay and Annabelle met and the history of their relationship. Bay's mother is a nightmare who is only concerned about appearances. She calls all the shots in the family. His sister, J Bay Van Duyvil, a wealthy heir to a New York family, is found murdered at a house warming in 1899. His English wife, Annabelle, is missing. Is she another a victim or did she murder him and flee the scene leaving their twin children behind? This is the mystery and the story is told mostly in flashbacks. We learn how Bay and Annabelle met and the history of their relationship. Bay's mother is a nightmare who is only concerned about appearances. She calls all the shots in the family. His sister, Janie, is so controlled by her mother that she can barely say, "boo" although she develops an interesting relationship with a newspaper man throughout the book. His close confidant, cousin Anne, is going through the unthinkable, a divorce. All of them are at the party. You are left to wonder if and how they are involved. This is really not my kind of book. It's really a gussied up romance novel and not what I would consider to be historical fiction. Still it has some surprises but a lot of it is pretty cliched. If you like romance in your stories, this is probably right up your alley. There's plenty of that. Thanks to Net Galley for a copy of this book in exchange for a review.
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  • Joy D
    January 1, 1970
    Engrossing murder mystery set in 1899, with another timeline five years in the past. The victim’s sister, Janie, surreptitiously works with a reporter to discover the truth. The two timelines eventually converge and reveal who killed Bayard Van Duyvil, the eldest son of an “old money” New York Hudson River family. The earlier timeline follows how Bayard met his wife and continues to the murder scene. The other follows the effort to find out what happened after the murder. All the characters have Engrossing murder mystery set in 1899, with another timeline five years in the past. The victim’s sister, Janie, surreptitiously works with a reporter to discover the truth. The two timelines eventually converge and reveal who killed Bayard Van Duyvil, the eldest son of an “old money” New York Hudson River family. The earlier timeline follows how Bayard met his wife and continues to the murder scene. The other follows the effort to find out what happened after the murder. All the characters have secrets, and the family’s honor must be protected. The writing was elegant and fitting for the era. I thought the first two-thirds of the book were very well-planned. The two timelines provided a bread crumb trail to additional clues, and it was difficult to guess the outcome ahead of time. Unfortunately, toward the end, it devolved into a soap opera, and I found the ending improbable and unsatisfying. It also left a fair amount of the storyline up in the air. The writing style counts for a lot in my enjoyment of a novel, so even though I didn’t care for parts of this book I would read this author again. Recommended to fans of mysteries with a romantic element and Victorian-era historical fiction.I received an advance copy of this book from St Martin’s Press via NetGalley in return for a candid review. It is scheduled for release on January 9, 2018.
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  • Judy Lesley
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for a digital galley of this novel.What a cracking good mystery/romance this book is. I've read several books by Lauren Willig in the past so I was excited to see what she had done with this historical story of an old-money society family in New York during the 1890's. The story takes place along two lines, beginning in London in 1894 as well as in New York state in 1899. Baynard Van Duyvil has arrived in London during his Grand Tour of Europe and meets Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for a digital galley of this novel.What a cracking good mystery/romance this book is. I've read several books by Lauren Willig in the past so I was excited to see what she had done with this historical story of an old-money society family in New York during the 1890's. The story takes place along two lines, beginning in London in 1894 as well as in New York state in 1899. Baynard Van Duyvil has arrived in London during his Grand Tour of Europe and meets a woman with a mystery in her past. Bay's sister Janie leads the story in 1899 when the consequences of that fateful London trip have to be dealt with. Usually I prefer that my mystery novels not involve romantic entanglements because I feel they don't add anything to the story of the crimes to be solved. In the case of this book that feeling does not hold true. Without the romance portions this story wouldn't have any purpose. Lauren Willig kept me in suspense throughout the whole novel and I readily admit to having no idea who committed the murder(s?). The characters are finely written and believable. The city and state of New York at the end of a century are very well portrayed and play important parts in the novel. I have to say I very much enjoyed reading this novel with such strong and believable female characters.
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  • Kayla Gallup
    January 1, 1970
    Trying to figure out what I wanted to rate this book was hard. I enjoyed the characters, the plot, and the execution of how the story was told. I really loved how it went from present time told by Janie, then back in time to tell Annabelle’s and Bay’s story. The one thing I struggled with the book was the pacing. It had a lot of slow spots, which would make feel tired and want to put the book down. But, overall it was enjoyed and the ending was an omg moment.
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  • DebsD
    January 1, 1970
    I'm sure this book will appeal to a certain kind of reader, but I am not that kind of reader. I don't get drawn in by grand houses and costumes and tragic backstories - I want strong, credible characters, good writing and a solid plot rather than vague hints at things that happened years earlier. Unfortunately in this book, I felt that the central plot was slow and sometimes tedious and while there were a number of interesting sidelines, many of these simply fell into the tale and out again with I'm sure this book will appeal to a certain kind of reader, but I am not that kind of reader. I don't get drawn in by grand houses and costumes and tragic backstories - I want strong, credible characters, good writing and a solid plot rather than vague hints at things that happened years earlier. Unfortunately in this book, I felt that the central plot was slow and sometimes tedious and while there were a number of interesting sidelines, many of these simply fell into the tale and out again without any development. The last few chapters were reminiscent of a daytime soap-opera, with a dramatic confession (view spoiler)[in the drawing-room (in the style of Agatha Christie) (hide spoiler)] and a deus ex machina in the form of (view spoiler)[a fire (hide spoiler)]. Many of the threads of the story were simply left to hang - so much so that I suspect that the author had ideas of writing a sequel. We never find out what happens to some of the characters: (view spoiler)[Did Georgie survive? What happened to David? Did the extremely unpleasant Giles simply go back to his life with nobody any the wiser regarding his past behaviour? (hide spoiler)] The only thread which is actually drawn together at the end is the (view spoiler)[predictable-from-the-start romance between Janie and Burke. (hide spoiler)]Sometimes the problems with a story can be tempered by great writing, but there is nothing here to rescue the tale. The writing is clearly intended to reflect the era in which the story is set, but it comes across as pretentious and contrived. There is far too much exposition, and I became irritated by the conceits used, such as frequently referring to Mrs Van Duyvil as "Janie's mother". I did finish this - but in all honestly, the only reason I did so was that it was an ARC. I try very hard not to abandon a book that I received as an ARC; as I see it, I have made a deal with the publisher to provide a rating and a review, and doing that without finishing the book seems somehow unfair. Under normal circumstances, I would have abandoned this by the 20% mark.
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  • Laurie
    January 1, 1970
    The story starts right in the middle of the action: On frigid Twelfth Night, 1899, in the middle of a Shakespeare themed ball, Janie Van Duyvil and her cousin Anne find Janie’s brother Bay dying of a stab wound and his wife, Annabelle, missing, presumably fallen into the river below the folly. As part of high society, the couple’s murder is front page material. The press descends in droves, speculating on the deaths. Did Annabelle kill her husband, then flee? Was it a love triangle, as there wer The story starts right in the middle of the action: On frigid Twelfth Night, 1899, in the middle of a Shakespeare themed ball, Janie Van Duyvil and her cousin Anne find Janie’s brother Bay dying of a stab wound and his wife, Annabelle, missing, presumably fallen into the river below the folly. As part of high society, the couple’s murder is front page material. The press descends in droves, speculating on the deaths. Did Annabelle kill her husband, then flee? Was it a love triangle, as there were rumors that Annabelle was having an affair with the architect of their new house? Did Bay kill Annabelle and then himself? From there out, the story alternates time lines: the 1899 present, as Janie seeks to find the truth behind the murders, and the past, when Bay and Annabelle first met and courted. Janie finds herself pairing up with James Burke, a newsman working for a paper with a bad rep who wants to write real news. Annabelle and Bay have secrets, lots of them. To tell here would ruin the book for readers; suffice it to say that neither is who they appear on the surface. But it’s not just their story. It is also the story of Janie. At the start, Janie is the person who melts away into the background. Her mother is a verbally abusive control freak, and Janie is her favorite target. She’s spent a life time learning to disappear. Her cousin Ann even stole her fiancé. Her growth and flowering through the story is wonderful to watch. There is a lot of description of all the trappings of wealth; the clothing, the jewels, the house décor. And while it might seem a bit excessive, it really belongs there: the wealth, the society it embodies, is, if not a character, is certainly a force in the story that exerts itself mightily on the characters. I enjoyed this book a lot, especially the characters of Janie and Annabelle. The identity of the killer actually took me by surprise. Five stars.
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  • Sarah Bowe
    January 1, 1970
    This book had intrigue and was always throwing me for a loop in relation to certain characters. Lots of mystery and didn't quite end the way I was thinking it might.
  • Benjamin Thomas
    January 1, 1970
    Annabelle and Bayard Van Duyvil would seem to have it all. Both born to wealth and privilege during the Gilded Age of 1890’s New York City, rubbing elbows with the Astor’s and the Vanderbilt’s in the “cottages” of Newport, not to mention the rest of the Van Duyvil family. But not all is as it seems and when, on the night of the Twelfth Night Ball, Bayard is found dead with a knife in his chest and Annabelle has gone missing, presumably drowned, all signs point to a murder-suicide. Not all partie Annabelle and Bayard Van Duyvil would seem to have it all. Both born to wealth and privilege during the Gilded Age of 1890’s New York City, rubbing elbows with the Astor’s and the Vanderbilt’s in the “cottages” of Newport, not to mention the rest of the Van Duyvil family. But not all is as it seems and when, on the night of the Twelfth Night Ball, Bayard is found dead with a knife in his chest and Annabelle has gone missing, presumably drowned, all signs point to a murder-suicide. Not all parties agree however.The novel is told from two separate time frames. First is from the days and weeks following the discovery of Bayard’s body from the point of view of his sister, Janie who forms a partnership with a reporter to find out what really happened. These chapters are interspersed with events that begin six years earlier from the intriguing points of view of Annabelle and Bayard themselves, allowing us to view the actual events as they unfold. The two time frames converge over the course of the entire novel leading to the climax at the end when the two time frames align. It’s a great way to tell a story and it kept me absorbed throughout.This is a historical mystery/thriller that feels a lot like something that would result if Daphne du Maurier coauthored a novel with F. Scott Fitzgerald. Guided age novels often seem that way to me, especially if they are well written, as this one is. I’ve not experienced any other novels by Lauren Willig thus far but she seems to be a beloved author and I suspect this will not be my last one to read. Her characters are complex and fully fleshed out. The settings were vibrant and the plot was absorbing. One of my marks of a good novel is pacing, and the structure of this novel was perfect as a way to approach the story, keeping the suspense building slowly but surely into a fiery blaze of an ending. I also enjoyed the numerous red herrings and bits of innuendo from various characters that not only fleshed out their personalities but also kept me turning the pages past my bedtime. Thanks to St Martin’s Press for inviting me to read and review a free electronic ARC through NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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  • Melissa
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 I loved many parts of this book. The story was super engrossing and I didn't want to put it down because I wanted to know what happened next. The characters were all fascinating and flawed and relatably human. And the setting very vividly captured 1890s Gilded Age New York (I completely by chance had just read the chapter of At Home by Bill Bryson that talks about that period and specifically the architects and Very Extra buildings, which did an excellent job setting the scene). It does fall 3.5 I loved many parts of this book. The story was super engrossing and I didn't want to put it down because I wanted to know what happened next. The characters were all fascinating and flawed and relatably human. And the setting very vividly captured 1890s Gilded Age New York (I completely by chance had just read the chapter of At Home by Bill Bryson that talks about that period and specifically the architects and Very Extra buildings, which did an excellent job setting the scene). It does fall into some tired tropes re: queer characters. With that being what the author ran with, I think it was done pretty well and with sympathy for everyone involved. But still. (view spoiler)[Of fucking course the one who dies is the one who's gay. (hide spoiler)]Also there were a couple of loose ends that seemed to fall off the face of the earth and not like they were intentionally left open ended: (view spoiler)[What happened to David? This is the thing that bothered me the most because everything and everyone else got some manner of resolution and after that overheard conversation he just, what, goes back to the party? And the narrative never goes back to him at all even though his lover had been murdered. What happens to him? How does he grieve? Where does he go? What the fuck, author. Also, I don't like that Giles Lacey gets to literally save lives, and then go back to his estate,and we never deal with (because there's no one alive to know) the fact that he's a fucking rapist. (hide spoiler)]Back to the good: the reveal of what actually happened to (view spoiler)[Annabelle (hide spoiler)] was such a perfect anticlimax because (view spoiler)[Giles Lacey had built up this elaborate story in his head worthy of a sensational novel, and nope she just eloped to Australia. And even after Georgie drops that truth bomb he still can't possibly imagine who with because a common farmer is so beneath his notice to be as good as non-existent (hide spoiler)]. I did like the main het romance, but it reminded me rather a lot of the one in The Other Daughter where the female lead leaves the world of the rich and famous (or attempts to get to said world) and ends up with a journalist. Lauren Willig, I have read all the Pink books; I know you are capable of other relationship dynamics.
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  • Liz
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC of this book through Goodreads, and am happy to provide an honest review of that copy.3.5 stars I have mixed feelings about The English Wife. On the one hand, it is well-written, and Lauren Willig (again) provides excellent characterization, well-researched historical detail, and interesting plot twists. Objectively speaking, I think this is Willig's best book yet.But. But. If you're accustomed to her earlier work, this one feels a bit ... bleak. I would find myself putting the I received an ARC of this book through Goodreads, and am happy to provide an honest review of that copy.3.5 stars I have mixed feelings about The English Wife. On the one hand, it is well-written, and Lauren Willig (again) provides excellent characterization, well-researched historical detail, and interesting plot twists. Objectively speaking, I think this is Willig's best book yet.But. But. If you're accustomed to her earlier work, this one feels a bit ... bleak. I would find myself putting the book down at night and almost dreading picking it up again (at least until the 50% mark, when I thought I'd figured out where the story was going).You know from the first chapter that poor Bayard and Annabelle are doomed. In more ways than one, as it turns out. You're also introduced to Bay's timid younger sister Janie and their controversial cousin Anne. And also Bay and Janie's mother Alva, whose personality and character match the frozen landscape. From there, the narrative splits; following Bay and Annabelle from their first meeting in the not-so-distant past, and Janie in the present until the stories meet in the middle. Willig deserves credit for creating some flawed, layered characters. Almost no one is exactly who they seem on the surface. The difficult part was getting to understand and care about Bay and Annabelle all the while knowing their sad fate. At least there was also Janie to cheer for. I also found it interesting that, while there was resolution, not all the threads in the story were neatly tied off. I definitely wouldn't mind a follow-up to this book, but I don't think the ambiguity is entirely off-putting either. In all - if you want a moody-ish book good for a cold January weekend, this might be it. If that doesn't sound like quite your cup of tea, though, you're welcome to join me in a re-read of The Secret History of the Pink Carnation.
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  • Jenea Whittington
    January 1, 1970
    The English Wife is set during a time when your wealth and stature is everything. When the son of a prominent family returns from a trip with a wife that nobody knows and comes from nothing, it kinda raises a few eyebrows. Rumors of affairs start about Annabelle, and then Bayard is found dead and she goes missing and their children are left parentless. But why, is the biggest question and where is Annabelle?The cast of characters was wonderful and there quite a few too, and they were complex but The English Wife is set during a time when your wealth and stature is everything. When the son of a prominent family returns from a trip with a wife that nobody knows and comes from nothing, it kinda raises a few eyebrows. Rumors of affairs start about Annabelle, and then Bayard is found dead and she goes missing and their children are left parentless. But why, is the biggest question and where is Annabelle?The cast of characters was wonderful and there quite a few too, and they were complex but fleshed out. The main ones, Annabelle and Bayard each had their own flaws and secrets. But with each other, they could share them with the other. Bayard was the one I questioned at first, even though he knew Annabelle’s secret, he still married her and took her home. So many times I kept trying to figure out why too. Annabelle was a mystery all which ways around, but the more I read, the more I understood her and really did enjoy her character. Such a strong girl for a young woman. Now of course there is Bayard’s mother, who is a piece of work. But, she is his mother, and is overprotective of her boy, so I tried to give her a little slack. Janie, his sister, was quite, reserved, does everything her mother tells her and stays pretty much in the shadow. That is until, the death of her brother’s death and the horrible things that were being said about him. This is one determined young woman, and she is set on finding out the truth of what really happened that awful night.The reporter that is on the case was quite the pain in the ass at first and I did really want to slap him a few times, but he was a reporter and they try and get the story however they can. Janie and his interactions together was tension filled and it so obvious what was going on, just not to them. I found it all kinda sweet and the romance did take a back seat to the murder mystery. None the less, I enjoyed every little bit I could get of them.The story is given in two time lines. The past is about Annabelle and Bayard’s meeting and how they end up marrying and moving back to his home with family. Then, there is the present, that is filled with scandalous rumors about them, and his death and her disappearance and being presumed to be dead. Over the course of the story the two time times converge and the pieces to start to fall into place, revealing secrets and leading up to the big twist at the end that was just amazing!This book has so many things going for it, it was hard to put down. The setting was vividly described and it felt you were right there with them. But the family secrets, and the murder to the slow burning and unexpected romance, kept me turning the pages. This was a fantastic historical murder mystery, and I would certainly recommend it for fans of historical fiction. [image error]
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  • Raela
    January 1, 1970
    Lauren Willig is one of my favorite authors, and I always enjoy her books. This one is definitely darker than her other books! One of her strengths is writing very likable characters. Georgie was sympathetic right away, but Janie took a little time for me--she was such a doormat at first. I did end up really cheering for Janie and enjoying her character arc, and I sympathized with Georgie, but it maybe was not quite as simple as usual. I actually think, in another author's hands, no one would ha Lauren Willig is one of my favorite authors, and I always enjoy her books. This one is definitely darker than her other books! One of her strengths is writing very likable characters. Georgie was sympathetic right away, but Janie took a little time for me--she was such a doormat at first. I did end up really cheering for Janie and enjoying her character arc, and I sympathized with Georgie, but it maybe was not quite as simple as usual. I actually think, in another author's hands, no one would have been likable, so she did an excellent job making us pull for some complicated characters. There was a lot in this story that was just sad and felt heavy, which I wasn't entirely expecting. Life is unhappy for almost everyone for a majority of the book, so you do have to stick that out to get to the end. There were some twists and turns that kept me guessing and a few surprises, so the mystery was well-executed. The romance felt quick and not as developed as it could have been, but there were a lot of other things going on the story that it had to be balanced with. Overall, this wasn't my favorite of Willig's books, but not in a way that makes me concerned I won't like her future books. I think this just wasn't exactly the story I was expecting, but the writing was what I expected, so I look forward to her next book!
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