Hisotry Coupled with Architecture
By Elizabeth Wilhide
Simon & Schuster, $24.99, 339 pages
Ashenden opens with brother and sister, Charlie and Ros, suddenly learning they have inherited a grand, old house in the country with lots of history. Charlie wants to sell it right away, while Ros wants to ponder keeping the house, instead. The subsequent chapters, reading like individual short stories, narrate the various inhabitants of Ashenden Park throughout the years beginning with James Wood, the original architect, in 1775. Ashenden takes on mystical properties as people’s lives are touched while inhabiting the house. Some owners spend countless funds to fix her up, while others lose everything or even destroy part of the estate. Ashenden is detail-ridden, almost too much so. As with any old home, the walls could tell stories of love, loss and calamities. Lovers of architecture will adore all the architectural details, coupled with the historical facts, in this novel. For this reviewer, the story ended rather abruptly and a bit too neatly to be a satisfying read.
Reviewed by Seniye Groff