by Lauren Willig
Family secrets, intrigue, affairs, mistaken identities and murder set the backdrop for an entertaining mystery set in New York City during The Gilded Age.
Georgie, a struggling actress in London, meets Bayard Van Duyvil when he is on his Grand Tour. Bay is kind, generous and from a wealthy, distinguished New York City family. Slowly he and Georgie form a bond and Bay asks her to marry him and move to New York City with him. But is Georgie really Annabelle, a woman from a wealthy family? Annabelle and Georgie grew up together in the same home and Bay is convinced that she is Annabelle. They marry and move to New York City where Annabelle/Georgie meet Bay’s tyrannical mother and his mousy sister, Janie.
Bay is a caring, generous, if a somewhat removed husband, and he is building her a home that exactly replicates her childhood home. They have beautiful twins and all should be well but there are rumors that Annabelle is having an affair with the architect who is designing their new home. A house warming party with a Twelfth Night theme is decided on so that they can welcome everyone to their new home. When Bay is found dead with a knife in his chest and Annabelle disappears, Bay’s sister defies her mother to investigate his murder. She allies herself with a newspaper reporter to discover what has really happened.
The story uses flashbacks to unfold the events and it works as a literary device. Janie comes into her own as she defies her mother and reluctantly works with the attractive reporter to uncover the truth surrounding Bay’s death.
The English Wife has references to Shakespeare’s plays, wonderful period detail, a good mystery and a surprise ending where we find out what actually happened and who killed Bay. I really enjoyed The English Wife. I listened to it on audio and enjoyed the narration by Barrie Kreinik.