I have been looking forward to reading this book, I do like Lauren Willig’s Books. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, but I don’t think it was what it turned out to be…a mystery, yes…a love story or two, yes…family secrets, definitely yes….a telling of The Golden Age, a bit…but more a story of lost trust, betrayal, upholding tradition. I found it to be more Daphne Du Maurier than I was expecting.
The book opens with a Twelfth Nignt Ball (why is it called the Twelth Night Ball, you will find out) being held at Bay and Annabelle Van Duyvil’s Hudson estate. Bay is found dying, with a jeweled dagger in his chest, by his spinster sister, Janie and divorced cousin, Anne…Annabelle is nowhere to be found, although Janie insists she saw her “under the ice of the river”. The last words Janie thinks she hears from her beloved brother is “George”. Who is George??!! The headlines scream “Knickerbocker Murders Wife and Kills Himself! Murder and Suicide on the Hudson!” Those are the first 10 pages!
We switch years and locations throughout the book and find ourselves in London where Bay and Annabelle meet, we learn both their back stories and how their “friendship” progresses and how they come to the States (no spoilers from me). We also learn about Janie, her domineering mother and her cousin Anne (what is her relationship with her cousin, Bay?!). Is Annabelle who she says she is…you will find out. Why is she terrified of Giles Lacey. Who is Georgie?
Janie can not bring herself to believe Bay is a murderer nor that Annabelle is having an affair with the architect of their new home and sets out to find the truth and enlists the help of a reporter, Burke, and so the adventure begins. Secrets are uncovered, Mother Van Duyvil’s domination of the household tightens, the Coroner’s Inquest brings many of the loose ends together but there is much more to be discovered. Families are torn apart, unspoken liaisons are exposed, and the murderer revealed (again, no spoilers, but a surprise to me).
Okay, did I like the book….let’s say I didn’t dislike it. You, by now, know I don’t do negative reviews. The writing is tight, as mentioned, I am a fan of Lauren Willig, it held my interest, the story interesting (I usually don’t like different time periods but these were tight enough not to bother me…we aren’t doing “time travel” here!) I guess I just didn’t care about the characters. I expected more about the people of The Golden Age, yes, of course, they are discussed…the class differences both in England and the States, the manners, etc. I would like to have had more. I wondered about the several different directions the plot took…but think, in the end, all was resolved. In the near future I’m participating in an on-line book club discussion and I’ll let you know if I learn anything new. Would I recommend you read it, yes if you like a book with interesting plot twists, a protagonist who doggedly pursues her goals and ends up being the strong woman we know she will become, some predictable events others not so much. Will it hold your interest I think so. Let me know your thoughts.