Ashenden is a memorable, affecting collection of interwoven short stories, as beautifully constructed and lovingly adorned as its stately namesake. Each chapter is a sparkling, incisive portrait of its era, illuminating the joys, sorrows and scandals of generations of British gentry, industrialists, spinsters, servants and strivers.
The great British country house of Ashenden, built by a social-climbing baronet in the 1780s, becomes home, sanctuary, symbol and lodestar for the countless families who live and work there in the ensuing two and a half centuries. Through cycles of ruin and rebirth, Ashenden — like Britain — proves that it’s built to endure. (SIMON AND SCHUSTER, Jan., 352 pp., $24.99)