Ashton Hall by Lauren Belfer
“How many lives can you imagine yourself living?”
So Hannah Larson wonders. When a close relative falls ill, Hannah and her young son, Nicky, decide to join him for the summer at Ashton Hall, a historic manor house outside Cambridge, England. Hannah gave up her academic career to raise her beloved child, who is neurodivergent and experiences the world differently from others, and she’s grateful to escape her life in New York City, where her marriage has been upended by a devastating betrayal.
Soon after their arrival, ever-curious Nicky discovers the skeletal remains of a woman in a forgotten, walled-off wing of the manor, and Hannah is pulled into an all-consuming quest for answers. Working from clues in centuries-old ledgers and the personal papers of the long-departed family, Hannah begins to re-create the Ashton Hall of the Elizabethan era in all its color and conflict. As the secrets of her own life begin to unravel, and the rewards and complications of being Nicky’s mother come into focus, Hannah realizes that Ashton Hall’s women before her had lives not so different from her own. She confronts what women throughout history have had to do to control their own destinies and protect their children.
Rich with passion, strength, and ferocity across the ages, Ashton Hall is a novel that reveals how the most profound hauntings are within ourselves.
Year first published: 2022