Khanh the Killjoy

The Ashford Affair - Lauren Willig Interesting story, well-written, but I didn't end the book with much like nor attachment for any of the main characters.This book spans roughly the early 1900s through the mid 1920s in England and Kenya, and runs parallel to 1999 London and New York.In 1906, six year old Addie's parents died. Her father was the son of an Earl, and her mother a writer of novels, which rendered them persona-non-grata in their circles. Addie is then brought to live, as a poor relation, with her uncle's family, at their family seat. The lonely, scared, and unwanted Addie is befriended by the bright and lovely Bea. Addie continues her life with the family as the unwanted poor relation, and shadows Bea throughout their early lives, but the two maintained a close relationship. The willful Bea breaks off her loveless marriage to a marquess to run away with her lover Frederick (who had previously been seeing Addie) to Kenya. It is in Kenya where things unfold that would change their lives and that of their descendants, including that of present-day Clementine.Clementine is a stereotypical modern woman, working a thankless job as a lawyer and with a failed love life. Her story in this book begins with an invitation to the 99th birthday party of her ailing grandmother Addie (the aforementioned). She is unsatisfied with her life, and an encounter with a stepcousin hints at a rekindled romance. Tensions gather at her grandmother's party, and resentful old aunt Anna (I really find it hard to imagine a whiny, spoilt 70 year old, but there you have it) reveals some family skeletons that nobody discusses.I felt that, with the exception of Addie, the characters were mostly one-dimensional. Bea is the willful, spoilt debutante to a tee, and Clemmie is too much chick-lit protagonist to have an actual personality of her own. Also, for a rational lawyer nearing her middle age, she reacts like a horrified teenager to one little family secret that, in my opinion, isn't even that big. No spoilers here, since we know this as the reader, but Addie turns out not to be her grandmother. She has been there for Clementine her entire life, and has been a mother, if not the biological one, for her mother and aunt all of their lives. It therefore makes little sense that the grown Clemmie would act like this is such a huge heartbreaking betrayal that this is kept from her.There are also some holes in the plot that I felt could have been fleshed out, with Bea's story after Kenya. With our omniscient view as reader, and with all that we know, it doesn't make sense to leave such big gaping plot holes.