The English Wife

By Lauren Willig

ISBN# 9781250056276

Brought to you by OBS reviewer Daniele


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 they dote, and he’s recreated her family home on the banks of the Hudson and renamed 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 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? (Goodreads)


Lauren Willig has penned a fascinating peek into the golden world of the wealthy Van Duyvil family during the Gilded Age.  Full of secrets and lies, The English Wife is compelling reading that dares to ask “what would you do for propriety’s sake? How far would you be willing to go to avoid scandal?”

Bray and Annabelle Van Duyvil appear to have it all – good looks, money, beautiful children. But, rumors swirl around them, and when Bray is found stabbed to death and Annabelle is nowhere to be found a full blown scandal of murder-suicide explodes in the media and rips through the upper crust.  Bray’s sister Janie simply cannot abide that her brother would kill the woman he loves, and she turns to news reporter James Burke to help bring the truth, and justice, to light.  This leads the pair down a twisty path where nothing is as it seems.

The English Wife is hard to put down.  With each new revelation, I could not wait for the next twist to unfold.  The story is told is alternating chapters of Janie’s investigation and the flashbacks that really tell the story.  Every time I thought I had it all figured out, another twist would be revealed, forcing me to reevaluate the killer’s identity.  Some of the characters are downright nasty and no one is without flaws, but I particularly enjoyed Mr. Burke.  He is very much the voice of reason in this tale.

Part romance, part family drama, part mystery, and part history, I really enjoyed The English Wife and recommend it to any historical fiction reader.