The Awkward Age: A Novel Book Review

Life, as we know it to be, is never simple. Whether we are a teenager, middle-aged or in the twilight of our lives, life will always be complicated.

In The Awkward Age: A Novel The Awkward Age: A Novel by Francesca Segal, Julia and James have found love again in the UK and are happily co-habituating in Julia’s house. Julia is a widow with a teenager daughter, Gwen. James is a divorced American ex-pat with two children. His daughter, Saskia lives in America with her mother while his son, Nathan lives with his father. Neither Gwen or Nathan are happy with the new family arrangement. When the relationship between Gwen and Nathan takes a dramatic turn that no one saw coming, the repercussions of this unforeseen shift may just be the thing that set all of them on a path that changes their lives.

I really enjoyed reading this book. I enjoyed it because the characters felt real. A good book has to make the reader believe that the character are real human beings, not fictional creations. While some writers are not able to make the characters feel real, Ms. Segal does an excellent job of humanizing the characters. I could feel the new love of James and Julia, the teenage antagonizing of their children and the change in their relationships as a pseudo family when the twist in the narrative occurs.

I absolutely recommend it.


The Innocents Book Review

Edith Wharton’s Age Of Innocence is  a classic. Newland Archer’s inner struggle between personal desire and duty is timeless.

Francesca Segal’s debut novel, Innocence, moves the story from Gilded Age New York to a predominately Jewish suburb in North London. Newland Archer has become Adam Newman. Adam’s life is well ordered and perfect. He is living in the same community he was born into, newly engaged to Rachel Gilbert, his longtime girlfriend and working for Rachel’s father at his law firm.

His world and his decision making is turned when Ellie, Rachel’s independent, rebellious and headstrong cousin returns from New York, running from a scandal. When Adam takes on Ellie’s case, he begins to question if his well ordered and perfect life is really what he wants.

There are some fans who are so cannon (fanfiction term for original script or novel) that any reboot which removes the characters and story line from their original setting seems blasphemous. I am not one of those fans.

However, there is something to be said when a writer takes a risk and tells a new story, instead of retreading the path of another writer. It doesn’t take much to change Ellen Olenska, a woman trying to divorce her abusive European aristocratic husband to Ellie Schneider, a young woman escaping a sex scandal involving a prominent public figure.

Did I enjoy the novel? I can’t say I didn’t, but I look forward to her next novel when she tells a new story instead of re-writing an old one.

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