Title: The Stolen Book of Evelyn Aubrey
Author: Serena Burdick
Published: November 1st, 2022 (Park Row)
Synopsis: What if you could write a new ending for yourself?
England, 1898. When Evelyn first married the famous novelist William Aubrey, she was dazzled by his brilliance. But their newlywed bliss is brief when William is gripped by writer’s block, and he becomes jealous of Evelyn’s writing talent. When he commits the ultimate betrayal–stealing a draft of her novel and passing it off as his own–Evelyn decides to write her way out of their unhappy marriage.
California, 2006. Abigail always wondered about her father, his identity forever lost when her mother unexpectedly died. Or so Abigail thought, until she stumbled upon his photo and a message that her great-great-grandmother was the author Evelyn Aubrey, leading Abigail on a journey to England in search for answers. There, she learns of Evelyn’s shocking disappearance and how London society believed she was murdered. But from what she uncovers about Evelyn, Abigail believes her brilliant great-great-grandmother had another plot up her sleeve.
Thank you to the publisher, Harlequin Books, and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
In 1898 England, aspiring writer Evelyn, the well educated daughter of wealthy parents, marries acclaimed author William Aubrey, whose debut novel has brought him fame, but the initially happy marriage turns into something terrible. When William, in the midst of writer’s block and jealous of Evelyn’s talent, betrays her by stealing her novel and selling it as his own, Evelyn decides that it’s time for her to find a way out of this marriage – one that will also be a suitable revenge for everything she has undergone at his hands. A hundred years later in California, Abigail finds a photo of the father she has never known in a book of poetry by Evelyn Aubrey, supposedly her great-great-grandmother, and sets off on a journey to England in hopes of discovering her roots and perhaps finding her father. There, she learns of Evelyn’s mysterious disappearance and the common belief that she was murdered by her husband and is eager to find out the true story of what happened to Evelyn.
A very last minute addition to my TBR this year, this book was such an interesting read! Dual timelines are my favorite of course, and this one was well written, maintaining the mystery for as long as possible and allowing the reader to pick up clues and hints from both timelines to speculate on what Evelyn’s plan might have been, if she went through with it and how Abigail might piece it all together. I also like the writing style, especially as it made it easy to transition from late 1900s England to present day California with no trouble at all, bringing the backdrop of both timelines to life.
The character development, for both Abigail and Evelyn was marvellously done and I really enjoyed watching both characters grow throughout their arcs. I definitely enjoyed Evelyn’s storyline more – which I kind of expected since in dual timeline novels, I mostly tend to like the past timeline. Abby wasn’t the most likeable character for me, but the plot was interesting enough to keep reading her POV chapters. Evelyn was a great character, and remarkably strong and determined as she refused to just accept and go along with everything that happened to her and instead worked to find a way out and escape her horrible marriage despite the very limited options for women in England at the time.
The only thing I had a bit of trouble with was the Aubrey family line which I found confusing to keep up with in the generations between William and Abby. Though it’s easy to extrapolate as to what might have happened to Evelyn after her last POV, it would have been nice to have some sort of epilogue from her perspective with some more information.
The Stolen Book of Evelyn Aubrey had a clever plot that made it a pleasure to read and the mystery was certainly an intriguing one that kept me turning the pages. I would definitely recommend this book for those who like mystery novels with historical settings!
The Stolen Book of Evelyn Aubrey released on November 1st, 2022.
Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
All quotes in this review were taken from an advance reader’s edition and may differ from the final version of the book.