This is the first time I have encountered a house as the main character in a novel, and I find I quite like it. Ashenden is a stately English country manor house built toward the end of the 18th century. It is clad in honey-colored Bath stone that glows in the sunlight, and was once surrounded by thousands of acres. Today the estate has shrunk to a few hundred acres, but there is still enough land to provide a beautiful view from all sides with terraces descending to the river in back. The novel provides glimpses into the lives of the people who lived or worked in Ashenden. Each chapter is a tiny look into the past. Sometimes it’s only a day, sometimes a few weeks, sometimes a few hours. The vignettes are beautifully painted, with an authentic feel for every era. And of course, I was left wanting more of each story.
Ashenden is based on the real Basildon Park in its appearance and in some of its history. There are photographs of Basildon online and looking at those photos while reading the book enhanced the reading experience.
eGalley review Publication date 1.8.13