Saturday, September 22, 2018

The English Wife

The English Wife is a standalone historical mystery/romance from Lauren Willig.  Released 9th Jan, 2018 by St. Martin's/Macmillan, it's 376 pages and available in ebook, hardback, paperback and audiobook formats.

I'm generally a huge fan of historical mysteries; especially ones set in the late 19th century (Gilded Age/Victorian).  Unfortunately this story never really felt convincingly as if the setting (and characters) were more than pasted in. I never connected with the characters and (as other reviewers have noted), I had a great deal of trouble keeping them straight in my mind.  The plot was convoluted and odd, I can't figure out why it never gelled for me.  I found myself plodding through the book, though I did finish it.  I don't review books for which I'm guilty of skimming (or cheating and reading ahead). The story developed very very slowly.  I never felt much (any) dramatic tension.  It's a shame because the author is a talented writer.  It just wasn't for me.

The dialogue was (to my ear) often stilted and awkward, and not in a formal 'polite society' manner. It also felt to me that the author couldn't decide whether to write a mystery or a romance and wound up doing neither justice.

I would, with some mild hesitation, recommend this book to previous fans of the author or possibly historical romance fans.  The ending was satisfying in a some ways, but mostly had me rolling my eyes and internally thinking, "really?! Almost 400 pages for that"?!

Two and a half stars, rounded up because the author really is talented, I think.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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