Publication Date: Sep 17, 2019
List Price US $16.99
Trim Size (H x W): 5.25 x 8
List Price US $10.99
In this luminous novel about romance and illusion—and what’s left of love when they’re stripped away—an American Anglophile is drawn into the lives of a disintegrating aristocratic family.
After the sudden death of her husband, Annie Devereaux flees to England, site of the nostalgic fantasies her father spun for her before he deserted the family. A chance encounter in London leads Annie to cancel her return to New York and move in with Julian, the disaffected, moody son of Helena Denby, a famous British geneticist. As their relationship progresses, Annie meets Julian’s sisters Isabel and Sasha, each of them fragile in her own way, and becomes infatuated with visions of their idyllic childhood in England’s West Country. But the more she uncovers about Julian’s past, the more he explodes into rage and violence. Finally tearing herself away, Annie winds up adrift in London, rescued from her loneliness only when she and Isabel form an unexpected bond.
Slowly, with Isabel as her reluctant guide, Annie learns of the emotional devastation that Helena’s warped arrogance, her monstrous will to dominate, inflicted on her children. The family who once embodied Annie’s idealized conception of England is actually caught in a nightmare of betrayal and guilt that spirals inexorably into tragedy.
Excerpt from Inheritance
The curtains were drawn, the room was almost dark, but I could make out its size, about four times that of my hotel bedroom, with high ceilings. I could just see his shape in the bed. There was a door to my left, slightly ajar, which I pushed open with the same stealth: sure enough, it was a bathroom, with a lovely big claw-footed tub, painted blue, with old-fashioned taps. I wished I could sink into it and shut my eyes, but I only dabbed at my sticky groin with the washcloth dangling over the side, threw some water at my puffy eyes, and dressed myself hurriedly, smoothing down the wrinkles in my black suit. After that I returned to the bedroom, to locate the door into the hall. And then a light switched on by the bed; he lay there watching me.
“Was it as bad as all that?”
“The sex. Was it really that dire?”
“I’m just a little embarrassed,” I said, hovering.
“Well, don’t be.” There was a warning note to his voice, an I-will-not-put-up-with-any-silliness note, that brought me up short. My head felt very clear suddenly. […]
Rain was splattering the windows on the other side of the room; the panes rattled as the wind struck them. The prospect of battling my way to a bus stop, getting soaked and splashed and whipped by gusts, the thought of the grayish light in my hotel room, the furniture bearing down on me: all that seemed too bleak to bear. Meanwhile the white, high-ceilinged room, with its tiny recessed fireplace surrounded by flowered tiles, its long, faded, chestnut velvet curtains, the oil painting of an old mill over the bed, felt like the very place I had come to find. This, finally, was England. And something about the crispness of his voice, his air of casual command: it seemed like a form of protection, there was so much certainty in it.
“A well-told and gripping drama.” —Times Literary Supplement
“Evocative…vivid…a knotty story ripe for discussion.” —Booklist (starred review)
“A wordsmith of the highest order, Toynton…weaves a deeply cinematic story.” —Library Journal (starred review)
“A finely phrased and observed piece of writing.” —Kirkus Reviews
“An intense and beautifully written novel, a vivid portrayal of romantic Anglophilia and disillusionment, explored in all its sorrowful and comic complexity.” —Joan Brady, Whitbread Award–winning author of Theory of War
“A scrupulously observed story of an American Anglophile confronted by the quirks, cruelties, and delusions of the English upper classes—I was fascinated.” —Lynn Freed, author of The Last Laugh
“Evelyn Toynton’s riveting new novel, about an American in England and the aristocratic family who fascinate her, artfully explores the damage done by ideals and illusions, while exposing the underlying reality no one wants to acknowledge.” —Carole Angier, biographer of Jean Rhys and Primo Levi
“Evelyn Toynton’s latest novel is a pitch-perfect exploration of an aristocratic English family whose inheritance is both glorious and grim. With her superb eye for cultural and psychological details, Toynton pulls us easily into a world that is at once familiar and uncommon, dark, witty, and achingly human.” —Elizabeth Benedict, author of Almost
Praise for The Oriental Wife:
“When [Toynton] describes love and lovemaking, the emotional high points of…life seem to leap from the page.” —Alan Cheuse, NPR’s All Things Considered
“[Toynton’s] prose is masterful…a deeply moving exploration of the eternal themes of love, loss, and regret.” —Free Lance-Star
“Tender and moving.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Deeply emotional…A first-rate literary work and a character study of loss.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Beautiful.” —Publishers Weekly
“Intense and moving.” —Booklist
“[An] intriguing novel…heartbreaking and poignant.” —Foreword Reviews