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 Van Duyvil, one of the main characters in this tale “There were times when she wished she had been born a male, that she might make her own way, that she might marry as she pleased and live as she would.” loc 45, ebook.
As she desperately tries to piece together the clues to find the murderer, Janie also comes into her own and begins to stand up to her tyrannical mother.
“It is her marriage,” Georgie pointed out drily. “Surely, she has some say.” “If you can think that, you haven’t met my mother.” loc 1179, ebook
I also enjoyed the role of the press in this story. James Burke is a reporter for ‘The News of the World.’ He wants to get the scoop on the murders. But, part of his job, is to sell papers. “The man had the gall to widen his eyes in innocence. “We prefer to call it investigative reporting, Miss Van Duyvil.” “I call it scandal-mongering, pure and simple.” loc 252, ebook.
My favorite scene is when Janie goes to ‘The News of the World’ building and readers get a glimpse into the crazy newsroom. “There was an undeniable energy to the room, the clacking typewriters, the shouting voices, that put energy into her step and color in her cheek.” What fun.
Willig seems to have a handle on what makes reporters tick. She even captures the gallow’s humor that they use to maintain their sanity. “Will it appear in an illustrated supplement in The World?” “Not unless there’s a body hidden there.” Mr. Bruke grimaced. “Sorry. In the newsroom, we… well, the worse it is, the more of a joke we make it. It’s a way to get through the day without being sick.” loc 2765, ebook.
Recommended for readers who want to lose themselves in a mystery with some romance along the way, The English Wifemay just fit the bill.
Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for an advance digital copy of this book. Reminder: the brief quotations in this review may vary from the final printed form.
Thanks for reading!