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Ashenden by Elizabeth Wilhide

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Posts: 4351
Joined: August 2008
Currently reading: The Farm at the Edge of the World by Sarah Vaughan
Interest in HF: The first historical novel I read was Katherine by Anya Seton and this sparked off my interest in this genre.
Favourite HF book: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell!
Preferred HF: Any
Location: North Yorkshire, UK

Ashenden by Elizabeth Wilhide

Post by Vanessa » Fri June 8th, 2012, 12:58 pm

Ashenden by Elizabeth Wilhide

Spring 2010, and when Charlie and Ros inherit Ashenden from their aunt Reggie a decision must be made. The beautiful eighteenth-century house, set in acres of English countryside, is in need of serious repair. Do they try to keep it in the family, or will they have to sell?

Moving back in time, in an interwoven narrative spanning two and a half centuries, we witness the house from its beginnings through to the present day. Along the way we meet those who have built the house, lived in it and loved it; those who have worked in it, and those who would subvert it to their own ends, including Mrs Trimble, housekeeper to the rackety, spendthrift Mores; the wealthy Henderson family, in their Victorian heyday; six-year-old Pudge; Walter Beckmann, prisoner in its grounds; and Reggie and Hugo, agents of its postwar revival.

Through good times and bad, the better we get to know the house, the more we care about its survival. A novel about people, architecture and living history, Ashenden is an evocative and allusive reflection on England and its past.

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed this gentle and nostalgic read about the history of a house from the time it is built in the mid 18th century until the present day. It is told via a series of snapshots or glimpses of life through good times and bad. The chapters flow on from each other easily and even though they are separate stories told in a different era, they are connected by a character or characters who are in someway linked to the house, sometimes as a resident, sometimes as a servant and at other times just as a visitor. The author portrays the various eras very well and I felt a good sense of time and place. I also liked the chapter intros indicating the state of the house, mirroring the state of the nation somewhat.

This isn't a story with a plot as such with a beginning, a middle and an ending - I read it more as snippets from the bigger picture. There is much that is left to the imagination which I found added to the atmosphere. It is a book where the house is the main character and where walls have ears. People may come and go, but the house remains to tell their tale and at the same time retaining certain secrets. I like to think that Ashenden Park will still be here recording the lives of those who have loved it for many years to come.

I found this a worthwhile, well written and absorbing read with some interesting characters. If you enjoy stories with a house as a character, as I do, this is one for you.

Rating: 4
currently reading: My Books on Goodreads

Books are mirrors, you only see in them what you already have inside you ~ The Shadow of the Wind

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