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The Innocents Hardcover – June 5, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion; First Edition edition (June 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401341810
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401341817
  • Product Dimensions: 9.9 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (103 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #588,015 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"It is impossible to resist this novel's wit, grace, and charm."—Lauren Groff, author of The Monsters of Templeton and Arcadia

"An emotionally and intellectually astute debut."—Kirkus

"A crafty homage. . . . [Segal] writes with engaging warmth."—Entertainment Weekly, Grade: B+

"Readers who enjoy fast-paced, gently satirical literary novels, fans of Allegra Goodman, and book group participants will find a Shabbat dinner's worth of noshing in this accomplished debut novel."—Library Journal

"The Innocents is written with wisdom and deliciously subtle wit, in the tradition of Jane Austen and Nancy Mitford. Francesca Segal has a remarkable ability to bring characters vividly to life who are at once warm, funny, complex, and utterly recognizable. This is a wonderfully readable novel: elegant, accomplished and romantic."—Andre Aciman, author of the award-winning Out of Egypt, Call Me by Your Name, and most recently Alibis

"A moving, funny, richly drawn story of a young man's attempts to find out who he wants to be when there are so many others who know best. Full of real pleasures and unexpected wisdom this book sweeps you along."—Esther Freud, author of Love Falls and, most recently, Lucky Break

"Inspired by The Age of Innocence, Segal's book is warmer, funnier, and paints a more dynamic and human portrait of a functional community that is a wonderful juxtaposition to Wharton's cold social strata."—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

"[A] delightful first novel . . . Segal's writing is wise, witty and observant."—The London Times

"The Innocents is compelling and Segal writes with an understated elegance."—The Observer (UK)

"With understated wit, empathy and a cinematic eye of detail, Segal brings alive a host of characters so robust that you can easily imagine them onscreen... A winning debut novel."—People

About the Author

Francesca Segal was born in London in 1980. Brought up between England and America, she has been a freelance contributor to many of the UK's most prestigious publications. She has been a features writer at Tatler, and for three years wrote the Debut Fiction column in The Observer.

More About the Author

Francesca Segal is an award-winning writer and journalist. Her work has appeared in Granta, the Guardian, the Financial Times, and both American and British Vogue, amongst others. She has been a features writer at Tatler, and for three years wrote the Debut Fiction column in the Observer.

THE INNOCENTS won the 2012 Costa First Novel Award, the 2012 National Jewish Book Award for Fiction, the 2013 Sami Rohr Prize, and a 2013 Betty Trask Award, and was long-listed for the 2012 Women's Prize for Fiction (formerly the Orange Prize)

Customer Reviews

Highly recommended whether or not one has read the "Age of Innocence."
Mary Reinert
I found the characters flat, two dimensional and unconvincing and I didn't like them or care about what happened to them.
Mat
I was disappointed, I really wanted to like this book, but after the first 50 pages I was just bored.
lori

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

70 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Joanna Daneman #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I have often wondered what would happen if you wrote a novel using an existing plot structure and dressed it with new characters. Here, we have one of my absolutely favorite novels, the masterful "Age of Innocence" by Edith Wharton, not only with the same theater set repainted and repurposed, but the same characters, dressed, not as Nineteenth Century New York Social List aristocrats, but as contemporary middle-class (really upper middle class) Jewish Londoners , a reverse of the New York social world--semi-ostracised from British high society but just as hermetic.

The characters are the familiar Newland Archer reborn as Adam Newman and May Welland becomes Rachel Gilbert. The third leg of the triangle Ellie Schneider is like Countess Ellen Olenska in that she's a creature of two lands belonging to neither (in this case, British-born but American-raised) and drenched in scandal. However, where the novel departs significantly from "Age of Innocence" is that Ellie truly is scandalous. Where Ellen Olenska sought to extricate herself from the socially acceptable but unbearable marriage in name only, an exchange for wealth and status, instead Ellie is besmirched by a past including making a porn film. She seems to take great care in flaunting herself as a modern "fallen woman" where it's not sex outside of marriage, but a lifestyle and inappropriate dress that make for clucking tongues.

The rest of the cast show up recognizably--Mrs Manson Mingott becomes Ellie's grandmother, Ziva, equally brave, somewhat unconventional and willful. Even the van der Luydens show up early, pillars of the community, fabulously wealthy and just as reclusive and exclusive.
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49 of 50 people found the following review helpful By "switterbug" Betsey Van Horn TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is an enjoyable and relatively conventional suburban drama of a close-knit Jewish community in NW London. Likewise, I applaud this debut author's sublime irony and chutzpah in her choice to revitalize but change the original version of THE AGE OF INNOCENCE, a novel written by the celebrated, anti-Semitic author, Edith Wharton, that won the Pulitzer Prize in 1921! (Wharton, Scott Fitzgerald, and Henry James were all privileged people of their times) Segal gets the last laugh by writing this tidy, classy novel about manners and family, and security versus passionate spontaneity. THE INNOCENTS takes place in contemporary times.

Twenty-eight-year-olds Adam Newman (cf. Newland Archer in AOI) and Rachel Gilbert (May Welland) have been together for a dozen years, engaged to be married, and comfortable and secure in their tight knot of overlapping and extended family and friends. Rachel has never been with any other man but Adam, and Adam's experience is limited (by today's standards). He is smug in his knowledge of Adam and Rachel, Rachel and Adam. Although his father died when he was very young, leaving an unresolved grief in his heart, Rachel's father, Lawrence, has embraced him like a son, even hired him to work as an attorney in his firm. They are as close as in-laws could be. The marriage in a year will seal the deal, and bring the families even closer.

"There was no life event--marriage, birth, parenthood, or loss--through which one need ever walk alone. Twenty-five people were always poised to help. The other side of interference was support."

In walks the prodigal cousin, returned from New York, Ellie Schneider (Ellen Olenska in AOI), a twenty-two-year old statuesque, bottle-blonde beauty.
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful By shelfishness on June 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Prior to reading Francesca Segal's, my knowledge of Jewish culture was limited to Adam Sandler songs and Seinfeld reruns and my connection to Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence was linked to a college class. Segal, however, manages to make her modern version of this classic completely welcoming, just like the Jewish families she writes of, and provides an endearing education to the Jewish culture of North West London.

Adam Newman is a young successful lawyer, engaged to Rachel Gibson who he has been dating since high school. The two have grown together and Adam, whose own father passed away when Adam was eight, has been lovingly accepted in Rachel's family, especially her father who treats him as a son. As the wedding date approaches, however, Adam begins to question the union, especially when Rachel's supermodel cousin, Ellie, re-enters the picture.

Ellie is everything that Rachel is not - worldly, carefree and fiercely independent and forces Adam to question his isolated existence in North West London with its shabbat rituals and Jewish traditions. He recognizes that Rachel is an ideal Jewish wife and is what he grew to expect as a member of such a close-knit community, but fears that life with her might further enmesh him into the only only world which he knows.

The story is enticing and is filled with voice. Adam is undeniably human and his confusion is easily understood, yet I found myself relating to Rachel as well. Segal has written a captivating story with lively characters and Jewish traditions, crafting a wonderful contemporary version of Wharton's classic. The Innocents, which arrives in bookstores in June, is an engaging read even for those who are not familiar with the original The Age of Innocence or Jewish culture. Segal warmly introduces readers to both. (Review from shelfishness.blog.com)
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