Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller, Romance

Review: The English Wife by Lauren Willig

A historical fiction with a blend of mystery and romance to create an unforgettable experience.


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I saw this book and was immediately drawn by its beautiful cover. And after I read the premise of this story, I knew that I had to give it a shot. It has been so long since I’ve read a historical fiction novel, and this was the perfect chance for me to get back into the genre.

The English Wife book cover

The English Wife

by Lauren Willig

Published December 9, 2018 by St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 1250056276

Data from Goodreads

Summary (Goodreads): 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?

My Review

This was a really interesting read and I quite enjoyed all that it had to offer!

The Pros: What worked for me

  • I love the way the author blended multiple genres into one book. There was a great historical background that served as the perfect platform for this mystery story that explores the depth of love and romance and secrets in a marriage.
  • I also loved that the story was told from 2 different points of view. One story took place in the past and was told from the perspective of Bayard’s wife. The other perspective is Janie’s as she tries to figure out what happened in the end. I loved both of these characters as they each struggled in their own unique ways and had very different personalities.
  • There were quite a few twists and turns and a number of characters that were pretty mean and nasty, which I really liked. I love having characters that are easy to hate sometimes because it makes me want them to be the evil-doers at the end of the book. It certainly added to the intrigue!
  • The romance in this novel was done superbly. I loved every single bit of romance in this novel and I wish I could expound on this but it would ruin the story. Suffice to say, this novel deals with some romance elements that are not usually seen in historical fiction books and it is done very well!

The Cons: What I didn’t like

  • While both the past and present story lines were interesting, I found that the present was a bit slower in pacing and not as exciting.
  • There are too many names that sound similar. Georgie, George, Georgiana … it was easy for me to get very confused. I don’t think all of these names should have been utilized, and I definitely think the author could have simplified it.
  • The ending didn’t really make sense because the final reveal of the killer’s identity was inconsistent with their behaviour throughout the book.

Overall, I quite enjoyed the book and the various twists and turns it took. It was a great way for me to get that dose of historical fiction while reading about romance and mystery. I’m giving this a solid 3/5 stars and I’m looking forward to what else the author has in store!

0 thoughts on “Review: The English Wife by Lauren Willig

  1. I got this book from Book of the Month as was also drawn by the cover. I love reading historical fiction, but have never read one from this period, mostly sticking to that around WWII. I am glad to hear you mostly like it and that there are twists and turns! Makes for a good mystery! Thanks for sharing and great review! 🙂

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