Spring, 2010. When Charlie and Ros inherit Ashenden from their aunt Reggie, a decision must be made. The beautiful 18th-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. There is 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.
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Not what I expected
Yes, Carole Boyd
No, Elizabeth Wilhide -- or at least not without much more research on how others liked her book
This was not what I expected at all. I enjoy sweeping epics that are based around a building. I'm a huge Kate Morton fan and love how her stories center on a house or an estate and tell the story going back and forth in time. That was what I was looking for. What I got instead was a story about a house and each little story that was told felt disjointed and unconnected. The author kept saying at the end, "The house knows. The house knows what it wants." Apparently it wanted a lot of inhabitants that were fairly boring and only wanted their stories half-told. It seemed that each time I became half-way interested in a few characters, the author jumped to another era. Arghhh... and barely any stories were connected! I did enjoy at the end when Allison and Izzy and Charlie and Reggie all seemed to float in and out of the stories.
I listened all the way through, I kept hoping it would get interesting and I could have given up on the story, but I'm too cheap. I paid for it dammit, and I was going to listen to it.
Good, but not great.
When Charlie and his sister inherit their aunt's run-down estate in rural England, Ashenden Park, they disagree over what they should do with it. Charlie, who now resides in New York City, knows they can't afford to keep such an enormous estate and his sister Ros wants to keep it and live there. As they are contemplating the decisions they need to make, the reader is transported back to different periods in the history of Ashenden Park, from it's design and contruction, to a later owner who had the money to make it a great estate, to its becoming a hospital for soldiers during WWI and on to Charlie's aunt purchasing the estate and restoring it in the 1950s. The book was reviewed as Downton Abbey-ish, but I did not feel that it was. It was a good book, but not a great one. Recommended, with that caveat.