Ashton Hall

Ashton Hall

I got Ashton Hall by Lauren Belfer as a birthday present this summer, and settled down to read it in the August heatwave, having enjoyed her previous novels (see my blog on And After the Fire). This is her first novel set in the present, although it involves the protagonist Hannah Larson, and her neurodiverse son Nicky, uncovering a Tudor mystery. This all happens at Ashton Hall, where Hannah and Nicky find themselves for the summer, dog-sitting the delightful Duncan in a small apartment that forms part of the stately home.

Nicky soon makes a great historical discovery, and as Hannah picks up her PhD again and starts to think about her future after finding out about her husband’s longstanding infidelity, she delves into the past, helping out the house’s research team by pouring through ancient manuscripts.

Nicky’s behaviour can be challenging and she is grateful to make a friend in Matthew, whose daughter Janet has some similar traits. The children soon make friends, as Hannah explores Cambridge and what it has to offer with Matthew. Meanwhile, Christopher, who had been married to Hannah’s mother’s favourite cousin, flies to the States for cancer treatment and Hannah is left to navigate the strange differences between British and American cultural norms (and drainage).

This is fun summer reading if you like a bit of quasi-historical fiction.