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The Innocents: A Novel Hardcover – April 6, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The author of biographies on Condé Nast and Marietta Tree, Seebohm here intriguingly fictionalizes the glitterati of WWI-era New York and France (with "Mrs. Condé Nast" making an appearance on the first page), but can't follow them all the way into psychosis. The mother of Dorothea and Iris Crosby, identical twins in New York Society, dies after giving birth to them and their father dies soon after in a riding accident. The two cling tightly to each other, overseen by their befuddled older brother, George. After the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, the teenage twins do wrenching work identifying burn victims. After several (chaperoned) trips to France, the twins, in their mid-20s, return to France as Red Cross volunteers when the U.S. enters WWI. When Iris falls in love with Southern Jewish aviator Maurice Aronsohn, Dorothea feels threatened. The two repledge their mutual loyalties, but the unhealthiness of their attachment becomes readily apparent. Seebohm's wartime Paris is particularly vivid; her prose throughout is concise and rich, and her narrative is peppered with period dialogue and epistolary correspondence among the characters. What doesn't come through is the sisters' desperation or the claustrophobia of their unraveling. One comes away wishing these innocents were a little less so. (Apr.)
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From School Library Journal

Adult/High School—Writers have long associated America's entry into World War I with a loss of innocence, a theme Seebohm adopts in her latest work. The innocents of her title are identical twins Dorothea and Iris Crosby, who, as the story opens in 1911, are 19-year-olds enjoying a comfortable life as members of New York City's elite society. Their first encounter with helplessness in the face of horrifying death occurs when their personal maid loses friends and family in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. Determined never to experience such feelings of inadequacy again, and moved by the grim news of the interminable war in Europe, the young women sign up as Red Cross volunteers the day after America declares war. Two years in a hospital tent tending to maimed and dying Frenchmen drastically alter their perspectives on both the present and the future. Seebohm depicts the destructive effects of war on participants on and off the battlefield, whether drawn by altruism, as in the case of the sisters, or by a continued need for glory, as in the case of a parallel story line involving Harry Forrester, a celebrated Harvard athlete turned fighter pilot. The author implies that for many, war's more insidious and depredatory effects come after hostilities cease and survivors contemplate a return to a normality they can no longer define or envision. This finely wrought book will move readers.—Dori DeSpain, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books; First Edition edition (April 6, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565125002
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565125001
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.1 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,584,654 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By roberta l rens on January 26, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Well, it certainly describes the horror of war and the impact on two young women. No happy ending or even resolution other than great sadness for all the characters.
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By Christine O'neill on January 9, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
A rich story that allows one to feel the under side of wars glory, reflecting a well written historical fiction.
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