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The Last Enchantments Hardcover – January 28, 2014


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The Last Enchantments + An Old Betrayal: A Charles Lenox Mystery (Charles Lenox Mysteries) + A Death in the Small Hours (Charles Lenox Mysteries)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (January 28, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250018714
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250018717
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #354,883 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Lauded young mystery writer Finch captures the American perspective on aristocratic Oxford in this coming-of-age novel. William Baker leaves the political world of New York City behind, along with a well-connected girlfriend, Alison, to spend a year studying English literature at Fleet, a fictional Oxford college. He boards in a small cottage on campus with other graduate students, who introduce him to life as an English uni student. Tom Raleigh, William’s pedigreed Tory housemate, indoctrinates him into centuries-old traditions at Oxford, such as formal dinners and ritualized drinking games. Then he meets Sophie, a smart and proper Englishwoman, and begins to drift away from his well-heeled college sweetheart, Alison, and toward the romantic, literary life of Oxford. As in Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, Oxford sets a regal and stunning backdrop to The Last Enchantments, giving it a timeless and rich ambience that is, well, enchanting. --Heather Paulson

Review

"This lovely novel invites the very kind of enchanted immersion that its protagonist experiences at Oxford. . . . Beautifully done." —Ann Packer, James Michener Award-winner and bestselling author of The Dive from Clausen’s Pier

“Compelling. . . . William Baker's voice, vividly established in the opening line, is the most striking of this novel's many virtues.” —Ron Rash, New York Times bestselling author of Serena

"Finch achieves that rarest of tributes to Oxford University, fond but still clear-sighted. . . . The heart of The Last Enchantments is his Bright Young Things—too young for their own good, let loose upon the medieval city of sherry-sodden intellectuality and rain-soaked romantic debacle, bright about everything except love and life. A witty, touching coming-of-age tale in a town that never ages." —Wilton Barnhardt, author of Lookaway, Lookaway

“Irresistible . . . The novel bursts with intelligence and wit as Charles Finch brilliantly examines our most secret longings and desires. . . . The Last Enchantments casts an enduring spell.” —Amber Dermont, author of The Starboard Sea

“A witty, wonderful book about that tender age between college and true adulthood. Charles Finch's sensitive, lyrical and heartfelt writing charms to the very last page.” — Cristina Alger, author of The Darlings

 

“Intense, fast-paced, psychologically intriguing, and wonderfully written, Will finds not only Sophie, the complicated, captivating woman who takes his heart and an unsettling group of friends,  but over the course of a disturbing and entertaining year, he finds himself in surprising ways.” —Susan Richards Shreve, author of You Are the Love of my Life


More About the Author

Charles Finch is the author of seven Charles Lenox mystery novels, including the forthcoming "An Old Betrayal." His first standalone novel, "The Last Enchantments," about a group of students at Oxford University, will be published in January of 2014. Come find out more at facebook.com/charlesfinchauthor or twitter.com/charlesfinch!

Customer Reviews

This was the wrong book for me and I enjoyed very little of it.
Blue in Washington
I am very impressed by the author's prose, although there were, at times, some interesting (perhaps pretentious) word choices.
J. Sidelinger
Along the way, Will reminds us what it means to be human and to have the world at our feet.
Jess

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Angela Reis on February 9, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I got the audio version of this book from First Reads and listened to the whole thing in one weekend of house chores and grading. Maybe you're supposed to spread it out more...

The language in this book is beautiful, and the author clearly loves Oxford and the time he spent there -- I get the impression that there's a lot of himself in this. And he's a good writer. There are excerpt-able sentences here and there, and statements about the nature of life worth thinking about. The whole thing feels very thoughtful and nostalgic. If you read it for the snippets of philosophy and literary-level thinking, it's really very enjoyable.

But I just can't get past the fact that I really don't like the main character, Will. His best friend Tom is rather unlikeable, too, but Tom actually undergoes change in the course of the book. He is affected deeply by tragedy and then, in recovery and grief, sets out to change, improve himself. Will, on the other hand, can't seem to be bothered to care about anything other than himself and his obsession with Sophie, and doesn't change or grow over the course of the novel. I found myself getting impatient with him. In this, he contrasts with just about all the characters around him.

Grad school is simply an escape for Will. He didn't bother to mention what he was even studying until he was halfway through the book (yep, I'm a nerd and I consider this omission strange). He doesn't go far beyond the "drinking and hanging out and hooking up are fun" level of the Oxford experience. He's using Oxford as an excuse not to grow up, I suppose. Beautiful language. Little substance in Will.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By E.B. Bristol VINE VOICE on June 10, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Will Baker, the twentysomething protagonist of Charles FInch's "The Last Enchantments," has just arrived to study literature at Oxford, after working on the presidential election campaign for John Kerry with his girlfriend Alison. He is still upset at Kerry's loss and loathes George W. Bush for his victory and privileges, even as he recognizes that he, too, has a similarly privileged upbringing. Upon arrival, Will, who is about as bland as his name, meets a group of fellow students, with whom he will spend the next year, drinking, hanging out and hooking up with.

About a hundred pages in, Will stops the narrative to tell us that none of this matters. There's about to be a Tragedy. This happens, and a character deals with it poorly but then manages to recover. This is it. Nothing of major note, nothing that transforms these people happens. They drink. They study. They have sex. They have discussions about whether or not to go skeet shooting or buy an expensive communal espresso machine. A mystery arises - someone is having sex on one of the common area tables and not cleaning up after himself - or herself. Such drama! Then this is solved, and they settle back into their usual routines. Will doesn't seem to grapple with any kind of existential angst. He is sometimes confused, but on the whole, a stable, if dull, guy. He wants to hook up and manages this with ease. As the year draws to an end, he needs to get a job, and gets offered not one, but three. Nothing life changing happens - which is maybe where the "enchantment" part comes in. But reading about a group of people in a state of prolonged irresponsibility does not make for an interesting read.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on February 12, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Following AN OLD BETRAYAL, the seventh installment in the Victorian-era Lenox mystery series, Charles Finch introduces readers to England’s iconic university, Oxford, New York-born Finch’s alma mater. One imagines that some portions of this beguiling contemporary novel may be autobiographical.

Yale graduate Will Baker leaves New York and his beloved and politically well-connected Alison, after supporting John Kerry’s failed presidential campaign, to study literature at Fleet, “one of [Oxford’s] forty constituent colleges.” Though Will “felt a terrible longing for Alison,” he betrays their love and is instantly caught up in a world of booze and plays “an unhealthy amount of table football.” His loves vacillate among Alison, Jess, Ella, and enigmatic Sophie, who challenges Will to question his own essence. These enchanting young ladies deserve better than shallow, Animal House-like Will. Perhaps Shakespeare foretold the philandering lives of Will and his booze buddies, Tom, Anil and Timmo: “Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more/Men were deceivers ever.”

In a maudlin scholastic life, Will specializes in lesser known writings of George Orwell, who wrote in his diaries, “At 50, every man has the face he deserves.” At age 25, Will has earned his, etched with lies and deceit. He experiences sort of a midlife crisis and wants what he doesn’t have --- until he gets it. Alison still loves him, but it’s “as if two parallel lines had touched” when they get together in England. They’re never on the same plane at the same time in the “wilted drama of our relationship.”

Though told through Will’s viewpoint, the real protagonist in this deftly written novel, set in 2005, is the collection of colleges known as Oxford, “such a tidal city, people in and out.
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