“Lauren brought her stunning historical novel to life for our audience. She was warm and engaging … She is a passionate and delightful speaker.”
 —Christamore House Guild Book and Author Benefit

Lauren Belfer is the New York Times bestselling author of four novels, most recently Ashton Hall, called “exquisitely illuminated” by Booklist. Bestselling author Fiona Davis described Ashton Hall as “A brilliant, immersive story rich with intrigue and historical detail, and a stunning achievement.”

Lauren’s debut novel, City of Light, was a New York Times Notable Book, a Library Journal Best Book, and a Main Selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club. Her second novel, A Fierce Radiance, was named a Washington Post Best Novel of the Year and an NPR Best Mystery of the Year. Her third novel, And After the Fire, received a National Jewish Book Award.

Lauren was born in Rochester, New York, and raised in Buffalo. She decided to become a writer when she was six years old, and she spent her early years crayoning short stories about heroic pets. By high school, she was writing poetry, and her extraordinary English teachers urged her to send her poems to literary magazines. She collected rejection letters from all the best places. Her first published short story was rejected forty-two times before it found an editor who loved it. Her second published story was rejected only twenty-seven times, which she interpreted as a tremendous success.

Lauren attended Swarthmore College, where she majored in Medieval Studies and Art History. After graduation, she worked as a file clerk at an art gallery, a paralegal at a law firm, an assistant photo editor at a newspaper, a fact checker at magazines, and as a researcher and associate producer on documentary films. She has an M.F.A. from Columbia University, and she lives in the historic Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City.

Lauren has spoken at in-person and virtual events around the U.S., Canada, and Great Britain, for libraries, universities, museums, community centers, and book clubs, and in front of audiences ranging from several hundred in an auditorium, utilizing multi-media presentations, to intimate gatherings of ten or twelve in a living room. She hopes that participants will leave her events feeling that the time was well spent and that they’ve learned something new about family, history, and how books can bring us together.

Lauren's Featured Titles

Ashton Hall

Ballantine Books |

An American woman and her son unearth the buried secrets and past lives of an English manor house in this masterful and riveting novel from New York Times bestselling author Lauren Belfer.

“Infused with the brooding, gothic atmosphere of Jane Eyre or Rebecca … a novel that must be savored, one page at a time.” —Melanie Benjamin, author of The Children’s Blizzard

“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 recreate 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.

“[Lauren Belfer’s] exquisitely illuminated story offers the vicarious indulgence of a stay at an English country house combined with an Elizabethan-era mystery and a meditation on women’s age-old struggles between independence and motherhood. . . . Belfer shows how history is a tangibly close presence.”

And After the Fire

Harper |

National Jewish Book Award Winner!

The New York Times-bestselling author of A Fierce Radiance and City of Light returns with a new powerful and passionate novel—inspired by historical events—about two women, one European and one American, and the mysterious choral masterpiece by Johann Sebastian Bach that changes both their lives.

In the ruins of Germany in 1945, at the end of World War II, American soldier Henry Sachs takes a souvenir, an old music manuscript, from a seemingly deserted mansion and mistakenly kills the girl who tries to stop him.

In America in 2010, Henry’s niece, Susanna Kessler, struggles to rebuild her life after she experiences a devastating act of violence on the streets of New York City. When Henry dies soon after, she uncovers the long-hidden music manuscript. She becomes determined to discover what it is and to return it to its rightful owner, a journey that will challenge her preconceptions about herself and her family’s history—and also offer her an opportunity to finally make peace with the past.

In Berlin, Germany, in 1783, amid the city’s glittering salons where aristocrats and commoners, Christians and Jews, mingle freely despite simmering anti-Semitism, Sara Itzig Levy, a renowned musician, conceals the manuscript of an anti-Jewish cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach, an unsettling gift to her from Bach’s son, her teacher. This work and its disturbing message will haunt Sara and her family for generations to come.

Interweaving the stories of Susanna and Sara, and their families, And After the Fire traverses over two hundred years of history, from the eighteenth century through the Holocaust and into today, seamlessly melding past and present, real and imagined. Lauren Belfer’s deeply researched, evocative, and compelling narrative resonates with emotion and immediacy.

A Fierce Radiance

Harper Perennial |

A Washington Post Best Novel of the Year

An NPR Best Mystery of the Year

This suspenseful novel from the New York Times bestselling author of City of Light follows a photojournalist as she takes on an assignment that will involve blackmail, espionage, and murder—all in the early days of America’s involvement in World War II.


In the anxious and uncertain days after Pearl Harbor, beautiful, talented Life magazine photojournalist Claire Shipley is assigned to cover the clinical testing of a new medication at the renowned Rockefeller Institute in New York. Still grieving the death of her young daughter from an infection, Claire is shocked by what she finds there: the doctors and researchers are attempting to cure fatal infections with a little-known, temperamental medicine made from green mold, which they’re calling penicillin—and that may be just the beginning of their breakthroughs.

As the nation plunges into war, Claire begins an intense love affair with James Stanton, an Institute physician given the difficult, top-secret task of coordinating penicillin research for the military. Meanwhile Claire’s long-estranged father, a self-made millionaire entrepreneur, is realizing the potential of the new mold-derived medications to transform the very nature of human existence.

When James’s sister and colleague dies under suspicious circumstances, the stakes involved in the antibiotic breakthrough become starkly clear. Caught between the extremes of war and greed, Claire finds her new relationship challenged in ways she could never have predicted.

At once a thriller, a love story, a family saga, and a window into the tumultuous home front during World War II, A FIERCE RADIANCE will captivate readers.

City of Light

Dial Press Trade Paperback |

NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK • “Breathtaking . . . a remarkable blend of murder mystery, love story, political intrigue, and tragedy of manners.”—USA Today

The year is 1901. Buffalo, New York, is poised for glory. With its booming industry and newly electrified streets, Buffalo is a model for the century just beginning.

Louisa Barrett has made this dazzling city her home. Headmistress of Buffalo’s most prestigious school, Louisa is at ease in a world of men, protected by the titans of her city. But nothing prepares her for a startling discovery: evidence of a murder tied to the city’s cathedral-like power plant at nearby Niagara Falls. This shocking crime—followed by another mysterious death—will ignite an explosive chain of events. For in this city of seething intrigue and dazzling progress, a battle rages among politicians, power brokers, and industrialists for control of Niagara. And one extraordinary woman in their midst must protect a dark secret that implicates them all. . . .


Castles, Cambridge, and Golden Retrievers: The Inspirations for Ashton Hall

A multimedia presentation about the people and places, and the research and discoveries – both serious and funny – that inspired me as I wrote my most recent novel, Ashton Hall.


Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, A Composer, her Family, and Her Salon

A multimedia presentation focusing on the gifted but long-ignored Composer Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, expanding on her portrayal in my National Jewish Book Award-winning novel, And After the Fire.


Finding a Miracle Cure: Portraying Science and Technology in Fiction

A multimedia presentation focusing on my novel A Fierce Radiance and examining the development of penicillin and other antibiotics in World War II, and showing how I fictionalized this important story by making it intensely personal.


Transforming a City and Its History into Fiction: Buffalo, NY, In 1901

A multimedia presentation showing how I rediscovered and recreated my often-maligned hometown of Buffalo, NY, during its glory days for my bestselling novel City of Light.


From Fact to Fiction: Four Historical Novels

A multimedia presentation examining how historical fiction can illuminate the past, particularly when the past is presented through the eyes of overlooked, accomplished women.


The Virtues of Rejection, A Semi-Humorous Commencement Address

A funny (I hope!) personal tour through the decades of rejection that culminated in the publication of my bestselling first novel, City of Light, when I was in my forties, and reenforcing the crucial message that you should never give up, no matter what you decide to do.



"All my multi-media presentations can be done in-person or virtually."

“I’m also available, again in person or virtually, to give small, intimate book talks on the inspirations for all of my novels and to discuss my writing process.”

Bookstorm | Lauren Belfer (Ashton Hall) is on the Radar!

R.J. Julia Bookstore | The importance of ice cream in Ashton Hall

Get Signed Copies of Lauren’s Books!

Ashton Hall – Book Club Kit and Reading Group Guide

And After the Fire – Reading Group Guide

Honors, Awards & Recognition

New York Times Bestseller
New York Times Book Review | Recommended Holiday Gift
New York Times Notable Book
National Jewish Book Award Winner
NPR Best Novel of the Year
Washington Post Best Novel of the Year
New York Times Editors’ Choice
International Bestseller
Barnes & Noble Discover New Writers Pick

Media Kit

By clicking the link below you will be directed to a Google Docs Folder
where you can download author photos and cover images.

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