In the High Peaks

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Ashton Hall by Lauren Belfer

Ashton Hall was my 7th read from my 20 Books of Summer List, and it was a definite winner for me. It’s a new title, published in May, I believe, yet I’ve seen and heard very little about it, surprisingly. I dreaded coming to the end because it was so hard to let go of the characters and their story.

Hannah and her nine-year-old son Nicky travel from their home in New York City to spend time with a close relative who has been severely ill. Christopher is elderly and lives in an apartment that’s part of a sprawling historic manor house in Cambridge, England, which dates back to the Tudor era.

It’s a perfect time for Hannah and Nicky to leave some of their personal problems behind and engage with a new, exciting place. Historical research is ongoing at the manse. Nicky, in his post-dawn morning explorations, makes a discovery that startle the historians, opening a window to the history of the house and its inhabitants dating back to the 1500s.

Yet the historical aspects never take over the story of the main characters in the present. The relationships that develop in the present are compelling and very well-drawn. There is no time travel in this book, nor does it shift back and forth from present to past to present, and so on. The time is consistently set in the present. The story that unfolds gradually about the past is fascinating, however.

Hannah is a strong character, struggling with her role as a wife and as a mother, who had to put her ambitions on hold to devote herself to raising her son who, though brilliant, has significant challenges.
This novel was never trite, never stereotyped, but remained fresh and genuine throughout. I want to give it 5 stars, and it was for me, but a definite 4.5 overall.  Atmospheric! Oh, and a wonderful Golden Retriever named Duncan.


  1. Ashton Hall sounds like it has all the elements I enjoy in a book. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. You are doing well with the summer reading challenge.

    1. Diane, I hope you get a chance to "test-drive" this novel to see if it's right for you. I loved it so much, it's one of my top 2 of the year so far.

  2. I really liked her book about electricity, City of Light, although it was a slow read. This sounds good too! I will put it on reserve.

  3. This book sounds very interesting, and I will look for a copy. I may wait until it has been out longer and find it in a less expensive edition.

    I have read City of Light by this author, also interesting.