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.