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The Middle Ages Hardcover – July 23, 2002

4.2 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A 40-something New Yorker gets a second chance at love and life in this warm-hearted if wandering third novel by Fields (Crossing Brooklyn Ferry; Lily Beach). Divorced and the mother of teenaged twins, Jane Larsen has worked for the same Manhattan architectural firm for 18 years, designing for chain businesses rather than the dream houses she'd prefer. Disenchanted with men, equally disenchanted with her own overweight and over-the-hill appearance, she's given up on finding love again. But when she's downsized, she takes that as an opportunity to return to her dream of designing houses (the Brooklyn brownstone she renovated for herself is lovingly described), and using the Internet she locates Jack Crashin, her true love whom she hasn't seen in nearly 30 years, the man who first inspired her to become an architect. Sparks begin to fly long-distance-he's in Nashville-and eventually the two reunite. Will Jack and Jane be able to make it work the second time around, despite many complicating factors? Their e-mail exchanges become maudlin, and Jane's view of herself as an unattractive, "cellulitic" woman past her prime is hardly uplifting, all of which is a shame since the author's message-about the need to rearrange one's life in order to avoid regrets-is resoundingly positive. If readers can get past the flaws, Jane's story may resonate with those looking for midlife inspiration.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

From the author of Crossing Brooklyn comes a sophisticated urban love story that will appeal to readers who have reached their own "middle ages." Amicably divorced from the father of her twin teenaged daughters, Jane Larsen lives well on her architect's salary from the prestigious New York firm where she has spent her entire career. Yet she finds herself bored with the commercial building assignments and longs for some excitement. On a lark, Jane searches the Internet for her first real love, a long-lost college boyfriend who also stirred her early interest in architecture. She finds him living in Nashville, and they reconnect over the distance by sustaining an increasingly intimate e-mail correspondence. Meanwhile, when her firm is faced with trimming costs, Jane is fired with only a five-month severance package. Although concerned about her financial future and her ability to find an equally good position at her age, Jane realizes that this setback frees her to pursue her dream of designing houses. She jumps at the offer of a commission from a handsome stranger, who also threatens to become a less distant lover. The complexities make for very enjoyable reading. Highly recommended for all fiction collections. - Sheila Riley, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, DC
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; 1st edition (July 23, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688145906
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688145903
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,584,236 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
It is rare that an author "hooks" me with three novels in a row, but that is just what Fields has done with "The Middle Ages", "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry", and "Lily Beach".
Jane Larsen is "Everywoman": middle-aged and, in her opinion, dumpy. She is raising twin teenaged daughters alone, but with the help of her very cooperative ex-husband. Jane has worked as an architect for a New York City firm for 18 years, where she designs mostly everything except what she wants to design: homes.
Suddenly her work life changes in a way she might have chosen had she had the energy and gumption to do so. Off on her own, Jane is hired to design a house, but her client seems to have romance in mind as well. She has little interest - her life just has not included thoughts of having a man in it.
Then Jane decides to contact her first love, Jack Cashin, the man who inspired her to become an architect, and whom she has not seen for 30 years. An e-mail correspondence ensues and Jane's life changes even more.
The book has no "pat" ending but leaves the reader hopeful....and wondering. Fields conveys a good, positive message about taking charge of one's life and making the most of opportunities that arise.
A delight to read.
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By A Customer on September 17, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is the third book I've read by this author and I'm happy to say that she has written another heartfelt read. She gets right to the bottom of what goes on in the minds of the overpopulated baby boomer generation so I'm guessing she's part of that census.
Fields takes us on another trip to Brooklyn, New York -- a Brooklyn so beautiful with renovated brownstones and beautiful gardens. So what if it's not always that way; either is life.
If you're looking for something charming that will give you a lift, then try The Middle Ages.
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Format: Hardcover
If you liked Crossing Brooklyn Ferry and Lily Beach you will also like Jennie Fields' latest. It is so well written, as are all of her books, with excellent character development. You can almost become as one with the protagonist, Jane Larsen, feeling her experiences as your own. She is a fortiesh woman, with twin teen age daughters, facing life as an architect in her brave new world, alone. Torn between an old love and a new, she experiences the swings of emotions many of us have often felt. The use of emails between Jane and her old love, Jack, is cleverly incorporated into the plot, leaving you wondering where this all will lead. The story moves smoothly along, and although the ending is not decisive, you know that ultimately things will work out as you had hoped all along. This is a wonderful read and I always look forward to a new Jennie Fields book.
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Format: Hardcover
Jennie Fields, author of the wonderful "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry," has scored again with her touching novel, "The Middle Ages." Jane Larson is a forty-six year old architect, living in New York City with her rambunctious fifteen-year old twin daughters. She is a divorced single mom who is bored with her routine job, which consists mostly of designing banks and assisted living facilities. She longs to go out on her own and create beautiful houses, but she lacks the courage to try something new after eighteen years with the same firm.

Although she is still attractive, Jane is no longer the lithe beauty that she was in her twenties. She huffs and puffs going up staircases, and the days when she attracted wolf whistles are a distant memory. She dates infrequently and has little expectation of meeting a wonderful man at her age. Jane's life is shaken up when her job situation suddenly changes drastically. Her personal life also takes an interesting turn, when she decides to e-mail her old college flame, Jack, supposedly to catch up on old times. Suddenly, the old feelings are rekindled, even though Jack is living far away, in Nashville, Tennessee.

With gentle humor and compassion that is rare in novels these days, Fields explores the territory of the "middle ages," which is often marked by fear, insecurity, loss and pain. Jack and Jane have both been battered by life. Are they ready to plunge into a risky relationship that could potentially bring them more heartache? Should middle-aged people have the confidence to try new things when the very thought of change is so terrifying? Fields's straightforward style is heartfelt and honest, and she writes as if she understands the territory of middle age very well from personal experience. A few overly sentimental touches here and there do little to detract from this warm novel about real people hoping for a second chance at happiness.
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Format: Hardcover
I accidentally discovered Jennie Fields a few years ago when I came upon her book, Crossing Brooklyn Ferry. While I'm a sucker for any book that has a New York reference in its title, I bought it but never expected it to be as good as it was. When I sought out her other book, Lily Beach, I found out that Fields was the real thing as this book was just as good, if not better than Crossing. That was five years ago. I have patiently waited for this author to pen her next tome and was delighted when I finally saw that her latest, THE MIDDLE AGES, was scheduled to be published in July. I'm not sure if I like the title because it reminds me of a history book but the cover illustrates what every Baby Boomer has come to realize and that is that "Life is not a bowl of cherries."
Fields is already well-known for putting the reader right smack dab in her hometown of Park Slope, Brooklyn, where beautifully renovated brownstones line the streets. Many of my high school friends lived in Park Slope and their parents are still kicking themselves for not hanging on to these now pricey brownstones. Her hallmark character is always a female and always one who is happy with her momentary single existence -- until she meets a possible Mr. Right and realizes that her single and sometimes lonely life is for the birds. In this case we meet Jane Larsen, who has worked at the same architectural firm for the past eighteen years. She is a single mother of teenage twin girls so job security is important to her. In her most private moments, however, she wishes she could just ditch the job and do something she really loves -- like designing homes. A twist of fate will make this possibility a reality if she wants to take a chance.
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