Saturday 27 April 2013

Review ~ The Innocents by Francesca Segal

The Innocents
Vintage (10 Jan 2013)
Written as a debut book, and awarded the Costa First Novel Award in 2012, The Innocents takes its inspiration from the 1920 book, The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, which, in 1921, was the first book to win the prestigious Pulitzer Prize by a female writer.

What if everything you'd ever wanted was no longer enough?

The Innocents is a well written first novel. It is set in London, rather than the original New York, and focuses on Adam and Rachel as they plan their wedding. They have been childhood sweethearts for years, and their own romantic history intertwines both of their families. All appears to be going to plan, the wedding is eagerly anticipated, and then into the mix comes Rachel’s cousin Ellie, who has something of a scandalous past, and before long Adam is tempted by Ellie’s provocative allure.

Having read the original book by Wharton, it is difficult not to make side by side comparisons between the two books, but overall this homage works well in a contemporary setting. Regardless of the passage of time, this age old story of temptation, recrimination, and retribution has universal appeal. The writing style is fluid and maintains interest; I was particularly engrossed in the Jewish background, which is a community of which I know very little, but whose values are explained in sympathetic detail.

Overall, I found book interesting and entertaining, its present-day location in London, gives it an informality which is refreshing, and the age-old premise of being thankful for what you already have, certainly rings true.


My thanks to Random House UK, Vintage Publishing for my galley of The Innocents

Francesca Segal

Winner of the 2012 Costa Prize for First Fiction.
Winner of the 2012 National Jewish Book Award for Fiction
Winner of the 2013 Sami Rohr Prize
Long-listed for the 2013 Women's Prize for Fiction

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