AUDIO

Ashton Hall

Books on Tape Jun. 2022. 12:38 hrs. ISBN 9780593587645. $76. F
COPY ISBN
Hannah Larson and her young son, Nicky, arrive in England to spend the summer with an ill relative who rents an apartment on the titular estate. Nicky’s explorations of the older parts of the building lead to a macabre discovery: the skeleton of a woman who had been bricked into a small room centuries earlier. Hannah, who left academia before finishing her PhD, is reeling from the discovery of her husband’s longtime infidelity and is happy to carve out time for herself assisting with research. She uses journals and drawings found in the woman’s cell to investigate 16th-century life on the estate, the woman’s identity, and the events that led up to her being sealed inside the wall. Belfer’s (And After the Fire) latest demonstrates extraordinary research into the Tudor era and modern-day preservation of historical buildings and ephemera. It’s both a gripping mystery and a thoughtful character study, as Hannah struggles to balance different elements of her identity and figure out the life she wants to live. Narrators Kristen Sieh and Jayne Entwistle beautifully inhabit the wide variety of characters.
VERDICT Essential listening for fans of historical fiction and contemporary considerations of marriage, motherhood, and identity.
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