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Publisher's Summary

An American woman and her son stumble upon the dark history of a rambling English manor house in this “masterful, riveting, and atmospheric” (Alka Joshi, author of The Henna Artist) novel from New York Times bestselling author Lauren Belfer.

“With vibrant prose, Lauren Belfer shepherds us through a centuries-old mystery and into a modern-day introspection on motherhood, marriage, and love.”—Georgia Hunter, New York Times bestselling author of We Were the Lucky Ones

When a close relative falls ill, Hannah Larson and her young son, Nicky, join him for the summer at Ashton Hall, a historic manor house outside Cambridge, England. A frustrated academic whose ambitions have been subsumed by the challenges of raising her beloved child, Hannah longs to escape her life in New York City, where her marriage has been upended by a recently discovered and devastating betrayal.

Soon after their arrival, ever-curious Nicky finds the skeletal remains of a woman walled into a forgotten part of the manor, and Hannah is pulled into an all-consuming quest for answers, Nicky close by her side. Working from clues in centuries-old ledgers showing what the woman’s household spent on everything from music to medicine; lists of books checked out of the library; and the troubling personal papers of the long-departed family, Hannah begins to recreate the Ashton Hall of the Elizabethan era in all its color and conflict. As the multilayered secrets of her own life begin to unravel, Hannah comes to realize that Ashton Hall’s women before her had lives not so different from her own, and she confronts what mothers throughout history have had to do to secure their independence and protect their children.

“Infused with the brooding, gothic atmosphere of Jane Eyre or Rebecca” (Melanie Benjamin, author of The Children’s Blizzard) and rich with female passion, strength, and ferocity across the ages, Ashton Hall is a novel that reveals how the most profound hauntings are within ourselves. 

©2022 Lauren Belfer (P)2022 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“Lauren Belfer’s latest is a brilliant, immersive story about one woman searching for answers after a terrible discovery from centuries earlier. The captivating threads of the plot - an English manor house with secret rooms and a dark past, a mother struggling with her atypical son - are rounded out by a lively cast of locals who had me laughing out loud. The novel is rich with intrigue and historical detail, and a stunning achievement.” - Fiona Davis, New York Times bestselling author of The Magnolia Palace

“Lauren Belfer’s Ashton Hall is masterful, riveting, and atmospheric historical fiction. It made me want to don a velvet cloak, brew a cup of tea, and settle in to watch Hannah and her ingenious son unravel the fascinating, dark, centuries-old secrets of a manor home.” - Alka Joshi, New York Times bestselling author of The Henna Artist 

“With vibrant prose and fine-tuned psychological acumen, Belfer shepherds us through a centuries-old mystery and into a modern-day introspection on motherhood, marriage, and love. It’s a virtuosic tapestry of cultures and eras, woven with exquisite precision and detail.” - Georgia Hunter, author of We Were the Lucky Ones  

What listeners say about Ashton Hall

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This is a difficult book to review

I returned this after getting about 1/3 of the way into it. The writing is really good. The narration is also well done (although I prefer British narrators and the majority of this is in an American accent). The problem I had besides not being a fan of audiobooks in American accents, is that there is so little “mystery” that it’s misleading to have marketed the book as so. The story was not bad, but if you are expecting a gothic mystery and instead you get a story about a woman’s journey parenting a child on the spectrum and trying to navigate a complicated marriage, it’s a letdown. So I guess I’m more disappointed in the marketing of this book, not necessarily saying it’s a “bad” book. If I was a fan of drama I’d say it was well done. However, I was looking for a bit more mystery and suspense.

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Great Historical Novel

I have enjoyed other books by Lauren Belfer so I was excited to learn that Ashton Hall was to be published this year. It was a double gift for me as historical fiction is my favorite genre with British history one of the periods I like best.
I found the characters to be well developed and believable with each one successfully representing life in their time period. Though moving between time periods can make a story confusing, it was successfully done in this book. Finally, the author’s research is evident and provides a richness and believability to the story.

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Annoying

Didactic, leaden. I bought because friends in the industry touted it. A disappointment to be sure.

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Another deep immersion in historical fiction

I have enjoyed as I read all of Lauren Belfer's novels to date and this is no exception. The story line and characters interesting , I could see part 2 but know that is up to us the reader . Thank you again Lauren for new knowledge and great read / listen .

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convincing narrative and history

The construct of this book, taking place in the present while the principal character stumbles through unexpected research into the past lives of Ashton Hall, was convincing and pulled me further and further into the narrative along with the protagonist Hannah. The author manages to balance a story about a woman navigating problematic relationships, personal disappointments, and uncertainty about the future, along with painstaking research into English history which is slowly revealed to Hannah (and the reader) as she delves deeper into the project. Hannah's indecisions and insecurities resonated, as much as the randomness of historical research and the thrill of discovery. This novel was far more satisfying and plausible than most historical fiction, whose authors shall remain nameless. The narration by Kristen Sieh and Jayne Entwistle were excellent as well.

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Immersed in an English manor, seeing women’s choices/strengths across centuries

Multiple mystery is to be solved here, from “who is the skeleton” to “should this marriage be saved?” As with every Belfer novel, a great story unfolds along with historical details that live on beyond the novel.