Ashenden: A Novel

Ashenden: A Novel

2.8 4
by Elizabeth Wilhide
     
 

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A novel about people, a country estate, and living history

“The house contains time. Its walls hold stories. Births and deaths, comings and goings, people and events passing through. . . . For now, however, it lies suspended in a kind of emptiness, as if it has fallen asleep or someone has put it under a spell. This silence won’t…  See more details below

Overview

A novel about people, a country estate, and living history

“The house contains time. Its walls hold stories. Births and deaths, comings and goings, people and events passing through. . . . For now, however, it lies suspended in a kind of emptiness, as if it has fallen asleep or someone has put it under a spell. This silence won’t last: can’t last. Something will have to be done.”

When brother and sister Charlie and Ros discover that they have inherited their aunt’s grand English country house, they must decide if they should sell it. As they survey the effects of time on the estate’s architectural treasures, a narrative spanning two and a half centuries unfolds. We meet those who built the house, lived in it and loved it, worked in it, and those who would subvert it to their own ends. Each chapter is skillfully woven into the others so that the storylines of the upstairs and downstairs characters and their relatives and descendants intertwine to make a rich tapestry. A beautifully written novel full of humor, heart, and poignancy, Ashenden is an evocative portrait of a house that becomes a character as compelling as the people who inhabit it.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Wilhide, an interior design and architecture writer, delivers a tedious historical exploration of an 18th-century English estate house in her debut novel. When Charlie Minton and his sister, Ros, inherit Ashenden Park (based on an actual estate in Berkshire, England) from their recently deceased aunt, they are forced to decide its fate., The house’s history is revealed through chronologically ordered flashbacks, one per chapter. The unidentified narrator, however, focuses more on the people whose lives revolve around the house; each chapter begins with a quick look at the house during that particular period before following the characters who then inhabit it. Unfortunately, there is little to thread this series of short stories together other than the building itself. As the supporting characters barely resurface from one chapter to the next, they are hardly given a chance to develop, and though the house is the intended central character, the execution is too disjointed, leaving the reader uninvested in the story. Though the descriptions of time and place befit an author who has made her name in the design and décor world, Wilhide’s ho-hum book lacks narrative tightness. Agent: Anthony Goff, David Higham Associates. (Jan.)
Daily Mail
A pleasurably subtle web of connections . . . a beguilingly effortless read.
The Guardian
An affecting, intelligent debut.
Financial Times
Rich and absorbing . . . personalities are sharpened by Wilhide’s fine ear for dialogue and her wry sense of humor. The novel’s real value lies in its detail, the patches of finely embroidered description, and in its subtle observation of behavior and tastes.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781451684872
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
01/08/2013
Sold by:
SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
103,182
File size:
3 MB

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Wilhide is the author of more than twenty books on interior design, decoration, and architecture and a coauthor and contributor of many more. Born in the United States, she moved to Britain in 1967, where she lives with her husband.

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Ashenden: A Novel 2.8 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book, about life in England seen through the life of a house is a wonderful read. We see England and its people throught the timeframe of birth to rebirth of the house Ashenden. It is a bit meandering but keep going. It's a great reward
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Found this book to be very difficult to read. As one of the reviewers said "it meandered" from family to family who owned the house. The author did not bring closure to any of the families. Maybe this was done on purpose.
bongie More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago