All the Ways We Said Goodbye: A Novel of the Ritz Paris Book Review

A building is more than the materials used to build it. It is a place of action and memories.

The center of the new novel, All the Ways We Said Goodbye: A Novel of the Ritz Paris is the Ritz Paris Hotel. Co-written by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig and Karen White, the book is set in three different times and places in France: an aristocratic country house during World War I, Paris during World War II and Paris in the 1960’s.

During World War I, heiress Aurelie is trapped in her family’s ancestral home with her father. The Germans have taken over and are slowly sapping the land and the people of their resources. During World War II, Daisy was raised by her American grandmother. Married to a Frenchman who has joined the Nazi cause, she secretly joins the resistance. In the 1960’s, Barbara is a recent widow. She has come to France to seek out the lover her late husband never got over.

When three authors work together on one story, there is either the potential to create an amazing story or a mess of a novel with three separate voices that never quite merge together. This book is somewhere in the middle. It is far from the worst book I have ever read. However, it does not quite reach the potential that it promises.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

That Summer Book Review

Every summer, a list comes out with the summer must reads.

Included in this list is Lauren Willig’s new  novel, That Summer.

Ms. Willig, as she did in the Ashford Affair, intertwines two different time periods.

In 2009, Julia Conley inherits a country house in England from a recently deceased great aunt whom she does not remember.  Her mother died in a car crash when she was young. After all of these years, even when she was raised in the United States, Julia still has nightmares about her mother’s death. In 1849, Imogen Grantham has been married to the much older Arthur Grantham for ten years. Unable to have children of her own and trapped in an unhappy marriage, Imogen treasures the relationship with her now teenage stepdaughter.   Imogen’s world is turned upside down when she has an ill fated affair with the artist whom her husband hired to paint her portrait.

I liked this book, for the most part. What Ms. Willig does very well as a writer (which many writers cannot do) is to travel between two different time periods and two different sets of characters while keeping the narrative engaging and fluid. My only criticism about this book is that the ending came out of nowhere and felt rushed. While I enjoyed this book, I enjoyed The Ashford Affair a little more.

Do I recommend this book? Maybe.

The Ashford Affair Review

There is something about the British Aristocracy that always seems to bring in an audience, whether on screen or in print. 

Lauren Willig’s new book, The Ashford Affair weaves together two different stories. At the start of the 20th century Addie is an orphan, taken in by her aristocratic relatives. Her closest confidant is outgoing an vivacious cousin Bea.  At the end of the 20th century, Addie’s granddaughter, Clementine is working crazy hours as a lawyer while dealing with a broken engagement.  During her grandmother’s 99th birthday party, a long held family secret is let out.  The journey to uncover that secret will ultimately change Clementine’s life. 

This book is Downton Abbey Meets Mansfield Park. Right up my alley. 

Ms. Willig tells an interesting story. Sometimes, interwoven tales in different time periods can be confusing. But not in this case.  Clementine’s personal journey interwoven with her grandmother’s life was a compelling read.

I highly recommend it. 


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