When Clemmie arrives at her grandmother Addie's birthday party, her grandmother, slightly dazed from her medication, calls her "Bea." This and a portrait of Addie's cousin Bea, whom Clemmie resembles, leads her on the track of long lost family secrets.
When Addie's parents died, and she was taken in by her aunt and uncle, her cousin Bea was her closest ally. Although they take different paths in life, the deep friendship between the two is the heart of the story.
I always get a kick out of Lauren Willig's Pink Carnation books, but while The Ashford Affair shares the time-slip narrative device of different plotlines running through different eras, it is a more serious book in tone. There is a lot of overlap between fans of this book and that series, but I wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't line up exactly that if you love one, you must love the other.
This is sweeping story that drifts between 1999 and the years just after WWII, with a few stops before and in between, and journeys from London to Kenya to New York, examining love, family, friendship, and deeply buried secrets. Highly recommended to everybody who likes books that work in multiple timelines.
Overall Grade: A