Friday, February 9, 2018

Audible Review - The English Wife by Lauren Willig

When I was offered the chance to review the audio version of The English Wife by Lauren Willig I jumped at it. I loved the seamless coauthoring she Karen White and Beatriz Williams did in The Forgotten Room several years ago so I couldn't wait to experience her all by herself and I was not disappointed. 
ISBN-13: 9781427293428
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Release Date: 1-9-2018
Length: 14hrs: 53min
Source: Macmillan Audio
Buy It: Audible
From New York Times bestselling author, Lauren Willig, comes this scandalous novel set in the Gilded Age, full of family secrets, affairs, and murder.

Annabelle and Bayard Van Duyvil live a charmed life in New York: he’s the scion of an old Knickerbocker family, she grew up in a Tudor house in England, they had a fairytale 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 named 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 try 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?

"Brings to life old world New York City and London with all the splendor of two of my favorite novels, The Age of Innocence and The Crimson Petal and the White. Mystery, murder, mistaken identity, romance--Lauren Willig weaves each strand into a page-turning tapestry." -Sally Koslow, author of The Widow Waltz

"Her best yet...A dark and scintillating tale of betrayal, secrets and a marriage gone wrong that will have readers on the edge of their seats until the final breathtaking twist." -Pam Jenoff, New York Timesbestselling author of The Orphan's Tale
excerpt courtesy St. Martin's Press ––

New York, 1899
It was impossible to ignore the headlines; they screamed out in bold black type from either side of the street, in the hands of newspapermen waving the latest editions.
“Miss Van Duyvil! Miss Van Duyvil! Did you see him? Did you see the body?”
“Miss Van Duyvil! Did you know he was going to kill her?”
Police had created cordons on either side of the front steps, keeping the press and sensation seekers at a distance. But they couldn’t contain the sound of them, the babble and rumble of the crowd, pushing and clawing for a better view, shouting out questions and opinions. The family had managed to evade the reporters at Grace Church, but the house was another matter. A jostling crowd had been waiting for them when they returned from the funeral—reporters and curiosity seekers, masses of them, mobs of them—wanting to get a look at the sensation of the hour, a proud old family brought low.
It had been only a week since they had found Bay, but since then, the story had whirled about them like a snowstorm, growing in force with every hour. All of the old nonsense had been dragged up: the whispers of Annabelle’s affairs, Bay’s jealousy, the adultery going on right beneath the marital roof.
Lies, all of it, but so much more compelling than truth.
And what was the truth?
Janie had no more idea than they. She knew only that Bay could never have done what the papers claimed.
“Miss Van Duyvil! Miss Van Duyvil! Is it true that he bashed her head in?”
Janie buried her chin in her fur collar and kept moving. The Cold Spring constable hadn’t believed her, not at first, when she said she’d seen a body in the water. He’d dismissed it as fancy. At least until they found that blue silk slipper on the bank.
They hadn’t found Annabelle’s body—not yet. The ice was too thick, the water too deep. It might never be recovered.
It. It, that had once been a she.
Janie could feel the beginnings of a headache pinching her temples. The noise, the clamor, it was all the stuff of nightmares; the past week was nothing but a bad dream. The funeral service, the flower-laden casket, the solemn pallbearers in their tall hats, the white-robed choristers, none of it had been real. Bay and Annabelle were at Illyria, sitting by the fire, the twins curled between them as Annabelle sang a lullaby, soft and low.
She tried to picture it, but all she could see was Bay, sprawled on the floor of the folly, his lips forming one last word as Annabelle’s body drifted beneath the ice, like something out of a painting by Mr. Millais.
Janie didn’t know what forces her mother had brought to bear to persuade the Putnam County coroner to release Bay’s body. Officially, her mother was in deep mourning, seeing no one, speaking to no one, delegating all the official offices of death to the family lawyer. But a series of notes on black-bordered stationery had made their way from Mrs. Van Duyvil’s desk to state senators and judges. And the coroner, who had initially hemmed and hawed and dithered, had discovered in himself unexpected depths of sensibility, issuing an interim certificate of death and postponing the inquest “until such time as further information might be acquired.”
“Miss Van Duyvil! Did you see it? Did you see him stab her?”
Anne addressed the crowd over her fur-trimmed shoulder, saying, in a carrying voice, “Surely, there must be a brawl at a beer hall somewhere in the city. Go find it. Or, if not, I’m certain you’ll have no trouble starting one.”
The laughter from the crowd stung the journalist into retaliation. He jostled forward, pushing his way free from the crowd. “Mrs. Newland! Where’s your husband?”
Anne went still, like a hunted animal, every sense on alert.
“Leave it,” Janie whispered. “Just go inside.”
But Anne didn’t go. She turned, slowly and deliberately, letting the journalists and gawkers look their fill. A cousin wasn’t required to shroud herself in black, so Anne had adopted half mourning, a bold purple that suited her rose and gold coloring. The evening editions would be full of every detail of her dress, the cut and color provocatively Parisian against the frost-bleached New York street. The sketch artists were already at work, blowing on cold fingers to warm them.
Anne looked the journalist up and down, her very pose a provocation. In a bored drawl, she said, “Why don’t you ask him?”
Janie tugged at her hand, but Anne didn’t need tugging. She turned on her heel, sweeping into the house with one magnificent flounce of her skirt, leaving Janie to scurry along behind.
In the parlor, the drapes were drawn and the lamps were lit; night in the midst of day. Janie shivered in her furs. They weren’t to have returned until Monday, and the house still had the chill of emptiness about it. Or maybe it was a different sort of hollowness entirely.
Janie’s mother looked up from the mirror by the side of the window, an innovation of their Dutch ancestors, glass cleverly angled so that one could spy on the street while seeming to look away.
“You shouldn’t perform for them, Anne. It only encourages them.” Janie’s mother looked narrow and pinched; she seemed, in the lamplight, like a portrait of herself, flat and grim. She turned away from the window, letting her eyes rest full on her niece. “But then we do know how much you love theater.”
The color rose in Anne’s cheeks. Or maybe it was just the snap of the cold—cold and scandal.
Janie turned quickly away, before they could turn their ire on her. Was this how other people were, afraid to admit grief, causing pain rather than be comforted? Or was it only the Van Duyvil household?
Bay hadn’t been like that. Bay would have defused the situation with a joke for Anne, a hand on his mother’s arm.
But Bay was gone.
Anne sank into a chair, a sinuous movement, even in her stays. “You have to give the vultures something. If they’re talking about Teddy, they might not—” With a convulsive gesture, Anne’s fingers closed around the slim gold case hanging from a chain at her waist. “Does anyone else need a cigarette? Janie?”
Janie ducked her head, an instinctive gesture.
“Not in my house,” said Mrs. Van Duyvil coldly.
“Even Ruth Mills smokes them these days, Aunt Alva. And she’s a Livingston.” Anne’s voice was its usual drawl, but her hands gave her away, shaking so badly she could hardly work the clasp on her cigarette case. “Isn’t that so, cousin dear?”
“So I’ve heard,” said Janie cautiously. She wouldn’t know. She’d never been invited to any of Ruth Mills’s house parties at Staatsburg. Janie went where her mother went, to select gatherings of the elect, parties that wouldn’t be sullied by the new people and their conspicuous expenditure.
And, of course, to Illyria. A silly name for a house, her mother had sniffed, but it was what Annabelle and Bay had chosen to call it.
Bay. The lamplight dazzled Janie’s eyes, refracting into the light of a thousand icicles. The snow had thickened after they found him, crusting his body with diamonds, turning him into a creature out of fancy, a sleeping prince waiting to be woken.
“Janie!” Her mother’s voice was sharp.
“I’m sorry. I was—”
“Not attending. You never do. Go see what’s keeping the girl. You’d think she was harvesting the tea herself.”
Anne rose from her chair with something less than her usual grace. The cigarette was still clutched, unlit, between her fingers. Even she didn’t quite have the gall to light it in the face of direct objection. “I’ll go.”
“No. It’s all right.” The parlor felt like the inside of a coffin, velvet lined. Janie could feel herself smothering in it. “I won’t be a moment.”
She escaped before Anne could object. If there was one skill Janie had learned over the years, it was the art of absenting herself. One could be absent in the midst of a crowded drawing room if one really tried.
If the parlor was a coffin, the hall felt like a tomb, the marble floor cold and bleak, the frieze of urns that skirted the ceiling disappearing into the gloom. Janie escaped gratefully to the nether regions of the house, down the half stair that led to the kitchen. She could feel the warmth even before she entered; warmth and coal smoke and the strong smells of food in various stages of preparation.
“Is something burning?” asked Janie.
“The cakes—” Mrs. O’Malley started up from the table, grabbing for a towel and catching up a newssheet instead. She stared at it as though not sure how it had got there. “I was just—”
“Yes, I can see that.”
DOUBLE MURDER ON THE HUDSON! shouted the headline.
Somewhere, they’d found pictures of Annabelle and Bay. Neither looked at all like themselves. Annabelle’s was an artist’s sketch, her hair piled high atop her head in a style she didn’t favor, her chin pushed into an unnatural position by the strands of a pearl choker Janie couldn’t recall her ever wearing. And then there was Bay. Janie recognized the picture, taken on the occasion of his graduation from the Harvard Law School six years before, his hair slicked down at the sides, high collar stiff around his throat. The same picture that sat in a silver frame on a table in the parlor.
Someone in the house must have provided the picture. Mrs. O’Malley? Or Katie, the downstairs maid? Katie was standing by the scullery, holding herself as though her very stillness would keep her from notice.
Janie nodded at the newssheet. “You’d best not let Mrs. Van Duyvil see you with that.”
Mrs. O’Malley clutched the paper close to her thin chest. “Yes, miss. No, miss.”
Janie had always wished she could be like a girl in a story, the sort of girl who was beloved by peers and servants alike. But she had never had the gift of commanding allegiance, either by love or by fear. The servants, she knew, took their cue from her mother. Janie was an extraneous female, but a Van Duyvil still, to be treated with nominal respect to her face and derision behind her back.
Janie held out a hand. “May I?”
Mrs. O’Malley surrendered the newssheet. The print was grainy, smeared by the touch of eager fingers. And this was only one of many newspapers being hawked on street corners. Not since the discovery of a dismembered body in the East River two summers ago had there been such a sensation.
Murder. Janie still couldn’t make her mind close around the word. Murder was something that happened in the tenements of Hell’s Kitchen, in the dark segments of the city through which a carriage passed with closed curtains. Not in her family. Not in Illyria.
“I’ll dispose of this,” said Janie, and was aware of just how much she sounded like her mother. A movement by the door caught her eye. A man, behind Katie, in the narrow passage between the scullery and the street. Sharply, she said, “And who might this be?”
Katie cast an agitated glance at Mrs. O’Malley. “It’s … my cousin. Jimmy.”
The man unfolded himself from the wall, stepping into the light, the gas lamp casting a reddish glow against his black hair, setting shadows beneath his cheekbones.
He held his cap in one hand; the other hand he extended to Janie. “My condolences for your loss, Miss Van Duyvil.”
Janie kept her own hands pressed close to her sides. “This is not a time to be receiving callers—even cousins.”
If he was one. The ink on his fingers said otherwise.
The byline on the article in Janie’s hands read James. James Burke.
James Burke. The name sounded oddly familiar, as though she had heard it before. On the pages of a newssheet? The family didn’t read those sorts of papers, but it was hard to ignore them entirely, plastered as they were across the city.
Janie pressed her eyes shut, seeing the glare of the gaslight against the inside of her lids. “It would be a great deal less painful if people would respect that loss.”
The interloper met her eyes, unabashed. “Surely, truth should be a consolation to the family, Miss Van Duyvil.”
“Do you call this truth … Mr. Burke?”
He didn’t deny the charge. Instead, he inclined his head in something that was almost, but not quite, a bow. “Truth comes in all forms, Miss Van Duyvil.”
On his tongue, the use of her name sounded impossibly intimate. “But seldom in The News of the World. I take it that you are the person responsible for perpetrating this … nonsense?”
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.” Janie was too angry to be shy; all she could think of was Viola and Sebastian in their nightclothes, crying for their mother. They were too young to understand what was being said. But what of when they were older? It was easier to fling mud than to scour a reputation clean. “Making capital out of the suffering of innocent souls.”
Mr. Burke leaned one hand familiarly against the back of a chair. “And isn’t that the same way most of your friends on Fifth Avenue made their fortunes?”
“That’s not—” That was what he wanted, to keep her talking. She’d find her own words flung back at her in the press, twisted and distorted. Stiffly, Janie said, “This is a house of mourning. I would urge you and your colleagues to remember that.” To Katie, she added, “Mrs. Van Duyvil is waiting for her tea.”
Katie bobbed a curtsy. “Yes, ma’am.”
Janie kept her attention fixed on Katie, her voice prim. “I trust you will, in the future, restrict your family reunions to your half day. They have no place in this kitchen.”
She sounded like her mother. No. Worse. She sounded like a sour spinster, tyrannizing the staff to mask her own powerlessness.
Mr. Burke stepped forward, a knight errant in a shabby gray suit. “It’s not Katie’s fault.”
“In which case, it must be yours.” Janie turned her displeasure where it belonged. “This discussion is over, Mr. Burke. You are disrupting the household and keeping Katie from her duties.”
“And we mustn’t have that.” Mr. Burke’s eyes met hers, the gray-green of moss over stone. “Good day, Miss Van Duyvil.”
“Good-bye, Mr. Burke.”
His only reply was a tilt of his cap as the door closed behind him.
A hint of French perfume warred with the scent of burning crumpets. “Who was that?”
Janie turned hastily, blinking at Anne in the kitchen door. “No one. One of Katie’s cousins.”
Anne shrugged, already losing interest. She looked out of place in the domestic confines of the kitchen, her taffeta gown too rich, her blond hair too bright for workaday use. “Aunt Alva wants her tea sent to her rooms. Sometime this century.”
Mrs. O’Malley sprang into action, assembling a tray with more force than grace.
“You’re to go to her.” Anne waved one long, white hand at Janie. “When you’re done with your … reading.”
Janie had forgotten the paper. Her fingers tightened around the page as she hurried after Anne, up the stairs. “I was simply disposing of it.”
“Whatever you like.” Anne’s tone was derisory, but Janie didn’t miss the glance she darted at the paper.
Janie would have laughed if it hadn’t been so miserable, all of it. To be reduced to reading the scandal sheets for word of one’s own family.
Somewhere along the sides of the frozen river, the search went on for Annabelle’s body. Or so they presumed. Their sensibilities, it seemed, were too delicate to be imposed upon by the police. Whatever they knew of their own tragedy came at third hand. They were starved for news, all of them, as isolated as Robinson Crusoe on his island.
Anne, with all her tricks and her charm; Janie’s mother, with her lineage and her money. All of their powers were reduced to nothing when it came to the workings of the masculine world of the law.
Janie looked anxiously at her cousin. “What happens next?”
Anne deliberately misunderstood her. “Supper, I should think.”
Janie pressed her eyes shut, schooling herself to patience. Grieving came upon people in different ways, and if it made Anne even more prickly than usual … well, there could be no doubt that she was grieving, or that she had the right to grieve. If there had been one person in the world who Anne truly loved, it was Bay.
There were times Janie had wondered if there might be something more between her brother and her cousin, if the rumors of Annabelle’s affair with the architect were just a screen for—
No. Janie bit down hard on her lower lip. Now she was being as bad as the scandal-mongers howling at the gate. Bay had loved Annabelle. If Janie was sure of anything, she was sure of that. Not the fevered love the papers meant to convey, something harsh and jealous, but a comfort with their own company, the intimacy of a hand on a shoulder in passing, a message conveyed with a look.
Words might lie, but not that.
Janie paused at the foot of the stairs, stopping Anne with a fleeting touch to her arm, the most contact they had had in weeks. “What they’re saying—Bay would never have done that. He would never have hurt Annabelle. Not Bay.”
“Because you knew him so well.”
Anne had always known just where to slide the knife. Janie forced herself to honesty, even if honesty felt raw and painful. “I wish I had.”
Ever since she was little, all she had wanted was for her brother to notice her. It wasn’t that Bay was particularly outgoing. His smile was a slow thing; his wit quiet. But there had been something about that very reserve that had promised riches to those admitted to the inner circle.
That would never happen now. Bay was gone, and all his subtle charm with him. Janie would never be privy to his confidences, never have him turn to her as he had to Anne.
Except that once, at the last, when his lips had spoken a name she didn’t know.
Janie stood at the bottom of the stairs, one hand on the newel post. She felt foolish asking, but if anyone would know, it would be her cousin.
“Anne,” she asked. “Who’s George?”

London, 1894
“Fancy a free supper?” Kitty popped into Georgie’s dressing room without knocking, banging the door cheerfully behind her.
Georgie eyed her friend in the streaked glass of her mirror. “What is it this time?”
Kitty adjusted her hat, frowned at the results, and tweaked it again, examining herself this way and that. “Not what—who. A Sir Something and his rich American friend.”
Kitty had removed the wig she wore as Maria in the Ali Baba’s musical evisceration of Twelfth Night, but her cheeks were still streaked with red, her face lavishly painted and powdered. Coupled with her feathered hat and new crimson brocade walking dress, it made her look, thought Georgie, like the more prosperous sort of streetwalker.
Picking up a cloth, Georgie scrubbed vigorously and ineffectually at the grease paint on her cheek. It was a bad job, she knew. No matter how much cream she used, how much soap, it never entirely came off. She went into each performance with the shadow of the last beneath it. “How can you tell the American is rich?”
Kitty winked at her in the mirror. “Aren’t they all?”
The ones who showed up in London were, at any rate, and London was the entirety of Kitty’s world. There must, Georgie was quite sure, be poor Americans, struggling Americans, ordinary humdrum Americans, but they weren’t the ones who showed up at the stage door of the Ali Baba, eager for a little Old World decadence.
“I don’t know. We have a matinee tomorrow.” Georgie didn’t fault Kitty for supplementing her income. Anyone who had lived as she had knew you did what you must to pay the rent. But it made her uncomfortable all the same.
“Here. Let me.” Kitty obligingly yanked the tapes of Georgie’s corset closed and began hooking up the back of her dress. Georgie’s dresser was meant to do that, but she had sloughed off the previous week, complaining about the size of her pay packet. They’d been playing to half-empty houses for the past six months, and it was beginning to show. They were already dressing themselves; they’d be making their own sets next. “I just need you to entertain the friend.”
“What kind of entertainment?”
“Nothing like that, I promise. It’s just a meal, that’s all.” Kitty hooked the last hook and stepped back, her eyes meeting Georgie’s in the mirror. “A girl needs to fill her stomach somehow.”
And the show wouldn’t run much longer. Kitty didn’t need to say it. It was there in the dusty dressing room, in the empty seats out front, in the desperation beneath Kitty’s crooked smile.
“All right,” said Georgie slowly. Champagne was better than stout any day, particularly if someone else was paying. A lady would blush at dining with strange men, would balk at the implied cheat of taking something for nothing. But she wasn’t a lady, was she? She was an actress. She showed her legs for a living. “Where are they taking us?”
“The Criterion,” said Kitty with satisfaction.
Georgie narrowed her eyes at her as she slid off the stool. “Let’s hope your American is as rich as you claim.”
Your American,” Kitty retorted. “I have my eye on the toff.”
Georgie grabbed her old coat. “Whatever you say, Lady Kitty.”
“Go on!” said Kitty, but the way she preened at the words made Georgie wish she’d kept her mouth shut. Kitty held out a flask to her. “Just a nip?”
Kitty had taken a nip already. Georgie could smell the gin on her breath, gin and the cloves to hide it. Add a bit of orange peel and she’d smell like Christmas punch.
It wasn’t an escape to which Georgie had resorted, not yet, but there were times when she understood the appeal of it, particularly now, with the chill of winter permeating the drafty back areas of the theater and the slush seeping through the thin soles of her boots.
But they didn’t know these men.
“I’d rather keep my wits about me.” Such as they were. But they’d got her this far, hadn’t they? She’d survived. There was something to be said for surviving.
“Suit yourself.” Kitty took her nip and then another.
Reluctantly, Georgie asked, “Had you ought to, Kit?”
Kitty shrugged. “The cold gets in your bones, doesn’t it?”
She shoved the flask back in the hidden pocket of her coat before pushing open the side door and tumbling out into the cold.
Two men waited in the alley, tall hats pulled low over their brows, the points of their cigars glowing red in the gloom. Their heads were bent close together, their voices low. They appeared to be engaged in some sort of whispered dispute, all the more vehement for being so quiet.
Georgie could feel the door handle cold and hard against her palm, the cold burning through her gloves.
After all this time …
She hadn’t thought about him in days, weeks, but he’d said he’d find her, hadn’t he? She knew that silhouette, she could see it beneath her eyelids when she went to bed at night, looming over her in the half-light, pressing her against the wall. That smell … the smell of bay rum cologne. The tall hat. The caped coat. That coat, flapping around his legs as he thrust against her. He hadn’t even bothered to take off his coat that day. She could still hear the susurration of it, back and forth, back and forth.
Run, run, run, Georgie’s senses screamed. If she moved quickly, she could be away into the warren of corridors in the back of the theater, up into the machinery that skirted the stage. But she couldn’t seem to make her legs move.
She could smell the tang of Kitty’s gin, the acrid reek of the men’s cigars. She could feel the pinch of a blister on her heel, the bruise on her side where she’d been hit by a piece of falling scenery. She was awake. Awake and frozen.
Breathlessly, Kitty called, “I’ve brought her!”
The two men turned, and Georgie’s breath came out in a rush that created a cloud in front of her face.
It wasn’t Giles.
This man was taller, broader, the hair beneath his hat fairer. It was a stranger who stood there. The shorter man tossed away his cigar, ground it beneath his heel, and sauntered forward to take Kitty’s hand. The other man stayed behind, in the shadows. Georgie could feel the clammy sweat in the small of her back, under her arms. She struggled to control her breathing. It was the caped coat that had made her imagine more. The caped coat and the red glow of a cigar in the gloom.
It wasn’t Giles.
It wasn’t Giles.
In a Mayfair drawl, the man with the dark mustache pressed a kiss to the back of Kitty’s hand. “Madama Katerina.”
“That’s Miss Frumley to you, my lord,” said Kitty with mock severity.
Kitty’s real name wasn’t Frumley at all. It was, she had confided to Georgie, Potter. But Frumley sounded better on the bills in the front of the theater, more aristocratic, like those earls of what’s-their-name, and Georgie hadn’t the heart to tell Kitty that the family whose name she had borrowed spelled it Tholmondelay.
“And this is Miss Evans.” Kitty displayed Georgie like a prize, dragging her unwillingly forward. “Georgie, this is Sir um—”
“Hugo. Hugo Medmenham. You may call me … Sir Hugo.” With a mocking bow, he gestured towards his companion. “Ladies, may I present to you Mr. Bayard Van Duyvil, of our former colonies.”
“Ladies,” murmured the man who wasn’t Giles. Now that he had stepped into the uneven light of the lamp over the stage door, Georgie could see that they were nothing alike. Tall, yes, and broad in the shoulders, but there any resemblance ended. Giles had affected long chestnut sideburns that curled beneath his ears, and a cavalryman’s mustache. This man was clean shaven, the lamplight making the fair hair that curled beneath his collar glow the color of old gold.
But Georgie hung back all the same. Foolish as she knew it to be, the old fear still gripped her, tightening her chest, constricting her throat.
It wasn’t Giles, she told herself again. It wasn’t Giles.
Kitty lowered her lashes, speaking in tones of exaggerated refinement that made Georgie wince for her friend. “Charmed, I’m sure.”
Tucking her cold hands beneath her armpits, Georgie nodded curtly in greeting.
Sir Hugo possessed himself of Kitty’s gloved fingers, drawing her to his side. “What are you waiting for, Van Duyvil? Do they not teach you manners in America? Miss Evans wants an escort.”
Miss Evans did not, in fact, want anything of the kind. What Miss Evans wanted was to pull her hat down about her ears and walk as rapidly as she could to her boardinghouse. A free supper was one thing; Sir Hugo another. She’d heard of him before, the sort who still believed in the droit du seigneur. Toss a few coins on the bed afterwards and think the girl honored by his attentions. There’d never been charges brought—but there wouldn’t be, would there? The juries of the world were made of men. A man could hold his honor dear in masculine matters such as gambling debts and never mind that he left a trail of ruined women behind him.
Men diced with coin; women diced with their lives.
Kitty was already walking off ahead, her arm twined cozily with Sir Hugo’s, leaving Georgie no choice but to follow. Mr. Van Duyvil reluctantly extended his arm.
Georgie placed her fingers gingerly on his sleeve. “I am afraid I didn’t quite catch your name, Mr.… Vandeville?”
“Van Duyvil.” His voice was warm and rich, the vowels strange to Georgie’s ears. Strange, but not unpleasant. “It’s Dutch.”
“Devil’s spawn,” contributed Sir Hugo with a grin. He leaned closer to Kitty, saying with mock solicitousness, “Don’t be alarmed, my dear. He seldom swallows more than one soul a night.”

Copyright © 2017 by Lauren Willig
My Review
The English Wife
Lauren Willig
Willig’s The English Wife takes readers back to the Gilded Age and into the life of one of New York’s prominent families unceremoniously dropping them right into the middle of a complicated murder mystery.
Told in multiple timelines and with Agatha Christie’s ghost whispering in her ear this master storyteller starts piling up suspects, while putting the pieces together revealing a family of wealth, stature, scandal and secrets. With a period perfect dialogue that will have readers googling unfamiliar terms and a vividly fluent narrative that keeps the pages turning the characters play each of their roles flawlessly dangling carrots until the final OMG ending. For fans of women’s fiction, literary historical fiction and murder mysteries this is the perfect choice to read by the fire on cold winter days.

NARRATION: 14 hrs and 52 mins
With a smooth Mezzo and immaculate intonations Barrie Kreinik’s narration is impeccable, perfectly portraying each and every character and adding special emotional touches where they’re really needed. Her rendition of the matriarch Mrs. Van Duyvil, the daughter Janie and the children were my personal favorites in her stable of brilliantly played parts.

On the night of January 5th, 1899 during the Twelfth Night Ball at their country home called Illyria in Cold Spring NY on the Hudson river socialite Bayard Van Duyvil is found stabbed by the garden folly and his wife Annabelle goes missing presumed drowned in the river. There have been reports about scandalous infidelities and now the rumor mill is really hopping with suppositions of murder suicide because Bay could no longer deal with his wife’s indiscretions. Bay’s sister Janie knows that Bay could never have killed his wife and without her overbearing aristocratic mother’s knowledge seeks out a reporter to help learn what really happened telling him she’s willing to brave whatever the truth reveals good or bad. But no one is prepared for the truth.

Embedded audio sample-

Connect with Lauren - Website - Facebook - Twitter
Meet Lauren:
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 the Mistletoe. A graduate of Yale University, she 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.


  1. This was a fantastic read!

  2. I love how you described this Debbie! I was just looking at this the other day on the library website, now I know I need to get a copy! Lovely review!

  3. This sounds really good. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I'm not familiar with the author or narrator.

    Melanie @ Hot Listens & Books of My Heart

    1. The narrator was new to me and new to Lauren too so she was glad to see some positive reviews.

  4. I hadn't heard of this one before. It sounds quite good.

  5. Sounds like a nail biting listen and I love the voice of the narrator. Always makes a difference. I am thinking about listening to it.

    1. it's so true about the narrator Kathryn. I hope you like it

  6. Ooo pretty. I've not read or listened to either of them. But I do have a few of her books, I believe.

    1. Yeah I read her only once before in her coauthored The Forgotten Room so I was excited to try this.