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The English Wife

3.8  ·  Rating details ·  2,489 Ratings  ·  601 Reviews
From the New York Times bestselling author, Lauren Willig, comes this scandalous New York Gilded Age novel full of family secrets, affairs, and even murder.

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
Hardcover, 376 pages
Published January 9th 2018 by St. Martin's Press
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Theresa There was some very minor foul language. I believe nothing more than maybe 'damn". It was very low-key and quite honestly I may be remembering…moreThere was some very minor foul language. I believe nothing more than maybe 'damn". It was very low-key and quite honestly I may be remembering incorrectly and there was nothing. However, I know there was one reference to someone being a bastard. It also contained minor implied sexual situations but there was no blow by blow descriptions. One more thing you might want to know is there was reference to a rape but I don't believe that word was ever precisely used, you just had to figure it out from the context. (less)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Yasya Yes! This threw me off so badly, I kept going back and checking dates on other chapters. A minor misprint in an unfortunate place.

Community Reviews

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Holly  B
I found the characters confusing and the plot was hard to follow. I liked the premise of a gothic mystery set in the New York gilded age, but it didn't live up to my expectations. I enjoyed some parts, but the flow was not working for me.

It begins with Bayard Van Duyvil found with a knife in his chest on the night of a Ball at his family home. I thought this mystery would be center in the plot and that suspects would be drawn out and examined, but there were too many side stories and discussions
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Sep 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arcs, kindle-version
4 scandalous, intriguing stars to The English Wife 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

The English Wife was off to a slow start for me, but once it picked up, I was glued to it. The Gilded Age is one of my favorite time periods, and instantly this book reminded me of a favorite book that Lauren Willig co-authored with Karen White and Beatriz Williams, The Forgotten Room.

Bay and Annabelle Van Duyvil appear to have it all, but when one of them is found murdered and the other is missing, all bets are off. Janie, Bay’s sister
Dec 07, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Bayard Van Duyvil and his wife Annabelle seemed to be living such a charmed life when one night Bay is found dead with a knife in his chest and Annabelle is nowhere to be found. With Annabelle thought to be drowned and a murderer to be found the press is all over the story of how this privileged couple ended up the way that they did on that fateful night.

Bay's sister Janie is convinced that someone out there killed her brother and did harm to his wife and is determined to find out what happened
Feb 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
2.5 stars

I had high hopes for this novel, but it fell flat for me. This genre is usually one of my favourites, but I had a hard time staying focused as I found my mind wandering between all of the side stories and different characters involved. I did enjoy the atmosphere and gothic tone, but the story itself felt quite drawn out and I wasn't pulled into the mystery.

This is my first novel by this author and I would be interested to try another one out as I do tend to enjoy these type of stories
Heidi The Hippie Reader
The year is 1899. The Van Duyvils are an extraordinarily wealthy and established family in New York. One night, at a holiday party, there is a murder... or is it a suicide?

The newspapers whip the public into a fury with their sensational headlines. They ask, 'Who are the Van Duyvils and who is the new English wife?'

And there, our story begins.

Lauren Willig has created a lovely mystery/historical fiction with snappy dialogue and enough layers to keep readers guessing to the very end.

I loved Janie
Oct 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: net-galley
It is the gilded age where money, power and prestige reign. Called such by the author Mark Twain, it was a period that dated from the 1870's until about the early 1900's. It was a time of amassing great wealth and the people who populated this age had last names like Astor, Carnegie, and Vanderbilt.

In all this luxury and unlimited money live Bayard and Annabelle VanDuyvil. They seem to have it all, he being part of an old Dutch family and she growing up in an English Manor in England. They met i
Jan 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
2.5 stars
The description of the book as a gothic murder mystery set in the Gilded Age piqued my interest. The first pages start off with a bang with a murder on the night of a grand ball. From there the story is told in a dual storyline, alternating between the recent past and the present as the murder victim’s sister, Janie, teams up with a reporter to discover what really happened to her brother Bay and his missing wife. There are plenty of family secrets and intrigue to uncover. The ending ha
Something terrible happens on the night of Annabelle and Bayard (Bay) Van Duyvil’s Twelfth Night ball celebrating the completion of their new family home in Cold Spring, New York. Bay is found dead with a knife in his chest and Annabelle is missing, feared drowned. Janie, Bay’s sister finds herself trusting and teaming up with a reporter to seek the truth about what happened and why.

At first I thought this story moved a bit slowly, almost plodding along as it shifted immediately from the night
Dec 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
If I were prone to feeling guilt over enjoying the things I enjoy, I would classify this as a guilty pleasure book. This is more a nineteenth century soap opera of a novel than a literary gothic mystery, so you'll do well to check those expectations of a second coming of Rebecca at the door before starting The English Wife. But I have no reservations at all saying that I loved this.

Sure, the writing is occasionally sophomoric; characters let out breaths they didn't realize they'd been holding;
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
Nov 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
A murder in an aristocratic household? Unheard of and especially during a ball with hundreds of guests in attendance.

Bay, Annabelle's husband and Janie's brother, could not have killed his wife and then killed himself. Janie was determined to find out who the real killer was.

We follow the family as the book goes back and forth in time making the connections for us about who was who and what the circumstances were.

And what marvelous connections and secrets this family has.

The biggest bomb shell c
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
4 stars--I really liked it.

This is a gothic romance in the vein of Rebecca--lots of atmosphere, human cruelty, and family secrets, but no supernatural happenings. It's also quite sad.

It's been a long time since I read a historical novel, and this really brought the Gilded Age to life. Characters were finely drawn (and not static!), and I especially liked doomed Annabelle and clever Janie. The plot kept me reading (and guessing) until the end.

There are lots of allusions to Shakespeare's comedies
Nov 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

The best way to keep someone was to let him go.

Riveting mystery that left me guessing up until the end. Compelling and heartbreaking love story(s). The book should come with the warning: “Consumption of the product can lead to sleep deprivation”. My kindle is full of highlights. My eyes are full of what feels like sand from reading almost all night. You know the feeling: “one more chapter, one more chapter”. Marvelous writing, masterful characterization, beautifully constructed dialogue bring
Karen White
Jan 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
With gorgeous writing, complex characters and a twisty plot to keep the reader guessing—this book is a must-read!
Jan 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, ninja
The cover for The English Wife is absolutely stunning, I just had to get that out of the way because I’ve looked at it a gazillion times! This was the perfect book to be my first review of the new year as I’m hoping to add more historical fiction to my TBR and I had heard wonderful things about Willig’s books so this was an easy pick for me. This was a beautifully rendered tale of love, betrayal and sacrifice all shrouded in a dark gothic mystery that swept me away to the gilded age.

This is told
I've given this an A+ for narration and a B+ for content at AudioGals, so that's as close to 5 stars as makes no difference!

I’ve read and/or listened to a number of the books in Lauren Willig’s Pink Carnation series, but for some reason haven’t yet read or listened to anything she’s written since. Nothing against the author – it’s my fault for having so little time to partake of books I’m not reviewing! – but the buzz about her latest novel, The English Wife, and good reports of it from friend
Book of the Month
Murder and Scandal in the Gilded Age
By Judge Dana Schwartz

A dazzling journey through the New York high society of the Gilded Age, where dresses and rumors are more important than politics, The English Wife drips with both Shakespeare references and near-pornographic descriptions of flapper-era fashion and well-appointed townhomes. It’s tempting to call this novel a mystery, but its scope is far wider than a whodunit: It’s a broad examination of culture and class at the turn of the twentieth cent
☆Dani☆ ☆Touch My Spine Book Reviews☆
 I loved the premise of this story and there was some great unexpected twists. This book had enjoyable characters and a good mystery. I also loved the romance.

Now to the things I disliked; this book was really slow to me and super sad at points. Maybe it’s just because I am in a difficult place but this book could not hold my attention at times and just kind of made me feel down. I liked this book overall, I just wish it wasn’t so drawn out.

I think some people who enjoy a nice historical read wo
The Lit Bitch
Oct 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first fell in love with Lauren Willig with her Pink Carnation series but I never ventured into her other stand alone books because I simply liked her where she belonged—in the Pink Carnation series.

Her Pink Carnation series was so fantastic and I didn’t want to spoil it with a stand alone book that was subpar, so I avoided anything by her that wasn’t the Pink Carnation series.

That was until this stunning cover screamed READ ME! Just looking at this book promised something fantastic, especially
Dec 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Ah the Gilded Age, a time when everything glittered gold but underneath that thin layer of gold corruption and deception ran supreme. In a sense that’s what this book was about. The deception of a good family the Van Duyvils. They had the family name, fortune, honor and homes in multiple places. Beneath it all though there was unhappiness, jealousy, and even a loss of self because here was always that need to uphold the family name. At its core the English Wife was a mystery. It starts with a pa ...more
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
The English Wife, well the writing is good, however, the story is both slow and predictable. The only true moment of surprise for me came at the end when the truth was revealed. And, I liked that, I liked the whole explosive ending, probably because finally something happened. However, I'm still not really pleased that we did not find out truly everything at the end. I feel a bit cheated, to be honest.

As for the characters, they were pretty bland, the only one that I really liked was Viola, who
Susan Peterson
Sep 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The English Wife is a tantalizing, scandalous story; a masterful blend of suspense and historical fiction. I was completely engrossed from the very first page, completely and utterly surprised along the way! The characters in this book were so interesting, so full of life; they were fully-fleshed out, complex and multi-layered. My favorite character was Janie, a mousey and demure character at the start who finds her voice through the twists and turns of this story. A gasp-out-loud heart-pounding ...more
Sep 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It has been a few years since I read a book by Ms. Willig, but The English Wife reminds me of why I enjoyed her books so much. I love mysteries and historical fiction and this is both with a spot of romance too. The setting is Gilded Age in New York City, but the story starts out in London with Georgie a young actress struggling to get by on her own where she meets a charming American named Bay, short for Bayard. Fast forward a bit and we find Bay married to Annabelle a young English woman strug ...more
I received this from in exchange for a review.

The book opens with Bayard Van Duyvil found murdered on the night of their Twelfth Night Ball and his English wife Annabelle is missing, presumed drowned. Bay's sister, Janie, is instrumental in solving the murder.

Although the story had a nice 'gilt age' flavor, the book moved with ebbs and flows as the story is told, surging forward and then dragging back.

2.75☆ rounded up to 3☆
Judy Collins
From the New York Times bestselling author, Lauren Willig brings the glitz, glamour, and scandal of the Gilded Age to life in her latest THE ENGLISH WIFE – Rich in history, a mix of a gothic murder mystery, and romantic suspense.

A portrayal of culture, class, and privilege at the turn of the twentieth century mingled with dark secrets and numerous twists and turns.

Headlines New York, 1899. "Knickerbocker murders wife and kills himself. Murder and suicide on the Hudson."

Janie Van Duyvil and br
BAM The Bibliomaniac
Many thanks go to Lauren Willig, St. Martin Press, and Netgalley for the free copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review.

Bay and Annabelle Duyvil after a few years of marriage moved to their property in the country of New York City, built a massive mansion, and three quite the fete for high society to stop tongues from wagging as they always felt shunned. But soon after the dinner is served and dancing begins they cannot be found. Not to be found that is until Bay's sister , Jane, and
RoseMary Achey
Jan 16, 2018 rated it liked it
A study of class during the turn of the century in New York City. Mystery, romance and historical fiction are all included in this sweeping novel. I particularly liked how the author sets up for the next book at the end.
Jan 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
A wonderful murder mystery set in gilded age New York (and a tiny bit in England). I enjoyed this book, and was not able to guess the plot twist ahead of time. My favorite thing of all about it was all of the new vocabulary words that I learned while reading this. There were so many wonderful archaic words that I never encounter in my day to day life, but now know. I actually kept a small notepad in the book to write new words down as I encountered them.
Kris - My Novelesque Life
This weekend I finished two novels written by two authors I have been wanting to try for a long while.  Every time I read a synopsis to a Louise Erdrich's book, I want to (and often do) add it to my to-read shelf.  Her books sound so interesting and given all the accolades, they must be well-written.  I even asked to review Erdrich's latest book, Future Home of the Living God, from the publisher. I hadn't yet had time to download it to my Kindle, but when I was at the library on Saturday I saw t ...more
Jan 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
*Source* NetGalley
*Genre* Historical, Mystery
*Rating* 3.5-4


Lauren Willig's The English Wife is a twisted story full of family secrets, affairs, alternating timelines, and a shocking murder that will cause a family scandal of epic proportions. As the story opens, it is 1899 in Cold Springs, NY, home to Bayard and Annabelle Van Duyvil. The Van Duyvil's are an extraordinarily wealthy and established family in New York. They are right up there with the Astor's, Vanderbilt's and Carnegie's.
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Book of The Month: (DEC)The English Wife Discussion 1 17 Dec 01, 2017 06:00AM  
Lauren Willig is the New York Times bestselling author of sixteen works of historical fiction. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages, awarded the RITA, Booksellers Best and Golden Leaf awards, and chosen for the American Library Association's annual list of the best genre fiction. After graduating from Yale University, she embarked on a PhD in English History at Harvard before ...more
More about Lauren Willig...

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