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The Innocents explained The Innocents, review The Innocents, trailer The Innocents, box office The Innocents, analysis The Innocents, The Innocents 578e WINNER OF THE COSTA FIRST NOVEL AWARD What If Everything You D Ever Wanted Was No Longer Enough Adam And Rachel Are Getting Married At Last Childhood Sweethearts Whose Lives And Families Have Been Intertwined For Years Theirs Is Set To Be The Wedding Of The YearBut Then Rachel S Cousin Ellie Makes An Unexpected Return To The Family Fold Beautiful, Reckless And Troubled, Ellie Represents Everything That Adam Has Tried All His Life To Avoid And Everything That Is Missing From His World As The Long Awaited Wedding Approaches, Adam Is Torn Between Duty And Temptation, Security And Freedom, And Must Make A Choice That Will Break Either One Heart, Or Many

  • Hardcover
  • 282 pages
  • The Innocents
  • Francesca Segal
  • English
  • 20 October 2019
  • 9781401341817

About the Author: Francesca Segal

Winner of the 2012 Costa Prize for First Fiction.Winner of the 2012 National Jewish Book Award for FictionWinner of the 2013 Sami Rohr PrizeWinner of the 2013 Premio Letterario Edoardo Kihlgren Opera Prima in MilanWinner of the 2013 Harold U Ribalow PrizeLong listed for the 2013 Women s Prize for FictionFrancesca Segal is an award winning writer and journalist Her work has appeared in Granta, th



10 thoughts on “The Innocents

  1. says:

    Don t be put off by my three star rating The writing is superb Quite stunning, really, for a first novel It s just one of those stories in which very little occurs, aside from the dailiness of life in a wealthy, tightly knit community This novel is modeled after Edith Wharton s The Age of Innocence, which is also a well written book in which nothing much happens The most appealing thing for me about the story is its Jewishness For a non Jew like me, there was a lot to discover.

  2. says:

    This is another debut book I ve owned Hardcover , and wanted to read since it was first released in 2012 Only took me 7 years I did however read and enjoy Francessa Segal s 2nd book called The Awkward Age.a few years back.Segal s 3rd Book Mother Ship was released last month June, 2019 I m hoping to see a Kindle release.but right now it s only in Hardcover 21.95 on I d love to read it The Innocents Inspired by The Age of Innocence , is simply funny heartfelt and totally ENTERTAINING Lots of reviews and ratings have been around for years so I won t repeat much of the plotbut I laughed and rolled my eyes plenty I understood the positions of each main character clearlyand was reminded of the the social snobbish experiences during the Jewish High Holidays at The Synagogue the subtle hierarchy the judgements of clothes people wear the quiet gossip all in the name of Jewish religious prayer The trio characters Adam, Rachel, and Ellie..each Jewish.are as different as night and day I d label them this way when it comes to their Jewish identity..Adam the Conservative Jew 28 years old a lawyer He is grappling with his naughty mind Rachel the Orthodox Jew wealthy protective traditional cares to follow the rules of her family..Ellie the Reform Jew The Jewish ethical slut Ha.ALL MY DESCRIPTIONS about Adam, Rachel, and Ellie.are the bare cliff notes for each of them There s they are complex being challenged in their own beliefs feelings and thoughtsThere are crossovers of these relationships between the Jewish religious and social , movements None of these labels are set in stone A great story about a Jewish community enclosed in London an upper class Jewish enclave There is a large cast of characters It s fair to compared The Innocents to Downton Abbey A Jewish Downton Abbey.Or. I laughed at this one but true Peyton Place meets Yentl This novel is already a little dated Contractors rarely use Corian for kitchen counters any longer but when this book was written Corian was considered high end There were other fun tidbits too.that made me giggle about how fast life is changing American contemporary Jews might pick up on nuances that non Jews might miss.but it s an irresistible story for readers of any culture, race, or class.A FEEL GOOD DELIGHTFUL BOOK I m loving Francessa Segal s writing talents

  3. says:

    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 unspoken but 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 She was kicked out of the MFA creative writing program at Columbia for making a skin flick that surfaced, and is mantled with controversy for her ongoing affair with a famous married art dealer in NY, a scandal that is about to hit the media, and started when she was only sixteen She dresses provocatively, which doesn t go down well with the relatives at synagogue, especially on a High Holy holiday such as Yom Kippur, where this novel opens Adam is transfixed and ignited by the sight of her even as he is repelled and intimidated by her cavalier independence from the strictures and reproaches of their insular community He cannily aspires to accidentally on purpose run into Ellie, bringing himself closer and closer into dangerous territory, like in AGE OF INNOCENCE They develop a muted, cryptic, but inwardly tender kinship, circling around each other, chastely, also similar in spirit to Wharton s book Meanwhile, Rachel s wedding plans are irritating him, because he wants to be married quickly and without fanfare, to be wed and put stray longings to rest Segal paints a vivid portrait of this clannish society s s, although most of the secondary characters are set pieces to further the story There s Ziva, the 88 year old grandmother, Rachel s , an erudite immigrant who survived the Holocaust Adam s mother, still a grieving widow after all these years, and other people that serve as color and background or to advance the plot The middle section moves gradually, perhaps stiffly at times, and includes a few hard to swallow events For example, Lawrence put Adam on as Ellie s private attorney, to help clean up her scandals, if possible, and do damage control to her public persona No matter how much Lawrence trusts Adam, I can t imagine any man placing his almost son in law in the position of private confidante to the provocative Ellie Lawrence is quite socially conservative and protective of his own family Even if he can trust Adam, why throw him to the lions There s support and then there s just not thinking In the author s defense, Archer helped Ellie in AOI, but, here, it feels inorganic.You don t have to be Jewish to like this theme driven novel The characters, actually, are universal, as are the conflicts that this book explores, mainly certainty in traditional values versus uncertainty in following your passion, the fallout of lingering grief, and the impact that your decisions have on others Segal also included a subplot that reflects the economic casualties of our times, but if felt a bit forced, a plot driven convenience.This is a solid, four star first novel, and it doesn t distract by being an updated version of a classic Rather, the presence of the older novel serves to illuminate that some things, at its heart, haven t changed, even if the d cor is renovated and a century has passed Segal has admirable control of her narrative, and her prose is clean and smooth I look forward to her next novel.Thank you to Shelf Awareness for this copy from the publisher.

  4. says:

    This was a 2.5, but I m giving it a first novelist.5 bump up This had the same effect on me as Song of Achilles it just made me want to re read the source material, Edith Wharton s brilliant Age of Innocence The central problem with The Innocents is, in fact, its source material the entire book feels like a mental exercise how can we re create the rigid hierarchies and complex social codes of 1870s upper crust New York in the modern world It s a difficult problem, since we live in a mobile, permissive and fragmented world, and Segal solves it by choosing a fairly hermetic niche with, she tells us, very strict codes of its own London s upper middle class, tradition bound but not Orthodox Jews But the problem is that as Segal acknowledges the hermetic world she builds for her characters is highly artificial and fairly illusory I have no firsthand knowledge of the London Jewish community in particular, but it is hard for communities where everyone works and is educated in the outside world to stay sealed off, especially since these are not true frummers with any particularly rigid religious code Age of Innocence would make sense set among Hasdiim Therefore, Segal s main characters resolute blindness to the outside world manifests itself as willful lack of curiousity, and frankly, dullness Instead of May Welland, the perfect bride who makes brilliant use of the limited tools at her disposal given her gender and social position and ends up calling the shots, we have Rachel, a babyish brat who at 30 is called Pumpkin by her boyfriend, never has a thought that s recorded on the page, and grates for most of the novel s 300 odd pages A similar flattening takes place with Ellie, the re incarnation of Wharton s Countess Olenska Ellie is a model with a taste for drugs and promsicuous past But she never shows any of the spark, the exterior intelligence, that makes Olenska compelling, and where Olenska s sexuality is truly interesting in the world Wharton depicts, where an unmarried woman is literally virginal and a betrothed couple shows their passion in a fleeting kiss on the lips, in today s world, where even adorable Pumpkin Rachel doles out blow jobs, Ellie is reduced to exhibiting her sexuality through wearing scraps of clothing and appearing nude in all kinds of posters and movies The central passion between Ellie and Adam remains entirely enigmatic neither one of them seems particularly compelling, or worth upsetting many familial apple carts for In short, it all becomes very stilted and dull, and somewhat irritating Perhaps the most important aspect of Wharton s novel that it is written 50 years after the era she depicts sort of a 1920s version of Mad Men in that respect is completely left out here This means that the brilliant coda where Archer chooses to hold tight to the fantasy that has nurtured him rather than risk either the rewards or the disappointment of reality is absent Also absent is the distance that Wharton s anthropological lens brings she s dissecting a bygone world and interrogating what innocence meant from the perspective of an age that is anything but Segal s story is much straighforward what you see is what you get.So why did I give it 3 stars then Because Segal writes well, and it s well realized on its own artificial terms But it was probably closer to 2, at the end of the day.

  5. says:

    Maybe it s just me, but have you ever been reading a book that, if you didn t have other obligations, you would finish in one day, or even one sitting If I had had the chance, I would have devoured Francesca Segal s excellent The Innocents in one day But having to slow down my pace allowed me to savor it a little , which certainly wasn t a bad thing.Inspired by Edith Wharton s The Age of Innocence, yet set in Temple Fortune, a close knit Jewish suburb of northwest London, the book follows Adam Newman, a successful and handsome 28 year old who has recently gotten engaged to Rachel Gilbert, whom he has dated since the two were 16 and met on a tour of Israel The two are celebrated for their engagement and have a relationship that is the envy of their community Rachel s strong sense of right and wrong, her devotion to family and friends, and her relative innocence are some of the things that appeal most to Adam, and Rachel looks to Adam for the solid steadiness and protection she has always gotten from her parents But when Rachel s younger cousin, Ellie, a troubled model and actress living in New York, comes to Temple Fortune, she brings chaos, drama, and a freeing excitement that Adam has never known Should he risk all that he has built his life upon for a chance at a different kind of happiness he never expected, or should he stay the course that he has been destined to follow his entire life I thought Francesca Segal did a fantastic job with this book The characters, while familiar in some ways, were unique, complex, and flawed, and you re truly not sure who to root for She pays close attention to detail and has created a community and a circle of interconnected family and friends that you d expect in a book twice this size This book has humor, sadness, excitement, and hopefulness I found myself hooked within the first few pages and wasn t able to let go until I finished reading This was definitely a quick read, and a tremendously well written one at that.

  6. says:

    I really had issues with this book I can t count the number of times where I wanted to physically shake one character or another I think that is the crux of my problem with this novel I had a difficult time liking the main characters Adam, our hero and I use the term loosely is a putz I wanted to smack some sense into him and force him to make a decision There were so many times I wanted to stop reading because I genuinely didn t like him His fianc e also got on my nerves I wanted her to grow up She always seemed so self centered and wishy washy that I found myself hating the times she was on the page There were a couple minor characters that I found interesting, but the hero and heroine I never was able to connect with I understand the author used The Age of Innocence as a template inspiration I think that could be part of the problem This is not the 18 19th centuries I think going back and reading Edith Wharton, that book works because it is set in an age where these were the social conventions I think putting these old fashioned conventions into the modern era doesn t work This was a major disappointment.

  7. says:

    When I started reading this book, right off the bat, I thought this reminds me of The Age of Innocence And then I read a bit and realized, this IS The Age of Innocence except the names, place and religion of the main characters is different Instead of late 19th century New York, the story is set in 21st century London, in a close knit Jewish community It is almost like she had an Age of Innocence template, and inserted date , name , place and the computer spit out this book.The issue I have with this book is that the author seems to have lifted the plot of Edith Wharton s book and changed the names and not much else It reminds me of the movie Clueless , which is based on Jane Austen s Emma except that while the plot of Clueless is very similar to Emma, and modernized the characters in Clueless seem to have their own distinct takes on who they are and what they re about, whereas the characters in The Innocents ARE the characters in The Age of Innocence There s no surprise twist If the character in Age of Innocence does it, the parallel character in The Innocents does it, too This might have been a much better book if the author had chosen to tell the story from the perspective of Rachel Gilbert aka May Welland or Ellie Schneider aka Ellen Olenska rather than Adam Newman aka Newland Archer Or, if she had made Rachel a stronger character, or made Ellie a strong, purposeful woman instead of a lost soul My problem isn t with the story Age of Innocence is a great story My problem is that Edith Wharton already told this story, and she did it far better than this It s like eating a Hershey s bar after you ve had a box of Godiva chocolates.

  8. says:

    4.5 What a stunning debut from Francesca Segal A 32 year old first time novelist has no business writing such a sophisticated, pitch perfect homage to Edith Wharton s The Age of Innocence Her strategy is that of Zadie Smith in her gorgeous On Beauty giving a classic novel a new home in contemporary north London, but staying true to the emotional content the interplay of love and desire, jealousy and frustration in Smith s case, the model is E.M Forster s Howards End And yet knowledge of the parent text is entirely unnecessary Both On Beauty and The Innocents are thoroughly accomplished stand alone tales.Segal s love triangle is set in a world I know very little about the tight knit Jewish community of northwest London Adam Newman has been happily paired with Rachel Gilbert for nearly 12 years, since they were Jewish secondary school sweethearts Now newly engaged, Adam and Rachel seem set to follow in Rachel s parents footsteps into the role of pillars of the community But suddenly, inevitably, their perfect world is threatened by the return to London of Rachel s bad girl American cousin, Ellie Schneider Her first appearance is certainly striking she shows up to synagogue in a wildly immodest model s outfit, an instant visual metonym for her bold, seductive persona Ellie has been dishonorably released from her creative writing course at Columbia University for appearing in a pornographic art film , with her sexpot image further enhanced by the scandal surrounding Marshall Bruce, a New York art dealer and socialite Among his extramarital relationships was one with Ellie, who was underage at the time he was paying her monthly deposits Porn star Paid for sexual favors Making a living from her physical attributes She is everything the safe, predictable Rachel is not, and Adam quickly becomes utterly enchanted with her.The rest of the novel plays out as a somewhat predictable will they, won t they game of manners My limited knowledge of Edith Wharton s work I read Ethan Frome a little under seven years ago suggested to me that whether the would be lovers got together or not, there was no possibility of their dalliance ending happily And yet Segal is remarkably kind and gentle to all her characters we as readers feel sympathetic to Ellie s orphan waif loneliness, Adam s conflicted love and loyalty, and Rachel s jealous guarding of her ordinary life all at the same time We don t take sides because Segal lets us see the beauty and validity of all sides.Each character is expertly drawn, from Adam s sex obsessed best mate Jasper to 90 year old Holocaust survivor and matriarch Ziva It is clear that Segal knows her Jewish community intimately, such that she can portray it both lovingly and critically She is particularly good at depicting holiday and family celebration scenes, with, for instance, impressive descriptions of spreads of food The book is strong at the level of language too, with a deliberately elevated diction that echoes Wharton and even Jane Austen Rather than seeming strained or overreaching, this strategy works remarkably well.I have vague memories of the Hollywood film version of The Age of Innocence 1993, dir Martin Scorsese, with Daniel Day Lewis, Winona Ryder and Michelle Pfeiffer , but can t recall whether every character and plot element has a one to one correlation in The Innocents I wouldn t be surprised if the themes of moral scandal and financial ruin come directly from Wharton Segal s story of longing and dissatisfaction in London s Jewish suburbia pairs brilliantly with Wharton s elegant examinations of upper class New York society life The Innocents is astoundingly successful, and Segal s is a masterful new voice A version of this review first appeared on Bookkaholic.

  9. says:

    In the rotation of crops there was a recognized season for wild oats, but they were not to be sown than once Edith Wharton, The Age of InnocenceThis epigraph marks the start of The Innocents, so what instigated my reading The Age of Innocence a little while ago is now apparent The Innocents is a modern retelling of the classic Fun Spoiler Advisory This book is based on a classic so of necessity some plot points may come up If you ve never read The Age of Innocence or seen the movie and don t want to know anything about it ahead of time, you ll have to stop here I will say that knowing the generalities of what was ahead did nothing to interfere with my enjoyment of the classic Obviously I knew even about the new book than I had about the old one, since I d just read that That gave me a touch of omniscience so that I knew the basics of what was going to transpire when specific characters made their entrances But it was still different in the long run Hopefully I can be silent about differences that would spoil surprises I had the same difficulty in both books remembering who some of the supporting characters were, but that didn t matter much Instead of being set in 1870s elite New York, this book is set across the pond in London, in an upper middle class Jewish suburb, where Adam Newman has just become engaged to Rachel, his girlfriend since he was sixteen, when who should arrive from New York but her hot cousin Ellie And so it begins.I first heard of The Innocents sometime last year It was supposed to be good It won both Jewish and general literary awards for first novel Francesca Segal is the daughter of Erich Segal of Love Story fame Love means never having to say you re sorry , although I m probably the one person in the world who has never read that book or seen the movie Some of the professional reviews are lukewarm I read one that got on her case for basing her first novel on another book But then I read one in the Los Angeles Review of Books that intrigued me I m going to give you the link, but it tells about the book than I do, if that bothers you It raised the issue of irony, since Edith Wharton was a snob who looked down on Jews and Europeans, and now Francesca Segal has turned the tables on her I think that review is what decided me on reading it but not before I read The Age of Innocence And because I knew nothing about the Jews of London And also because I myself didn t grow up in the bosom of the Jewish community.I simply haven t read other books based like this one on the plot of a classic So at first my mind was all taken up with what the parallels were, and I continued to mentally look back and forth although the story took me and carried me along.A difference in the two books is that in The Age of Innocence, the point of view is entirely Newland Archer s All the dawning understanding of his culture and his situation is through his eyes Adam Newman occasionally shares the view with others, so, although insight dawns, there is not the impression of impotent wisdom to the same extent.London s Jews aren t the elite like 1870 New York s Episcopalians.Segal s world is busier Even though basically it s only the Jewish characters who are featured, they are in a crowded city Wharton s world is a simpler pattern of a cut jewel like precision I thought maybe it s like a play set on the stage Its seeming simplicity gives it its perfection It works, but maybe because we are at a remove from that world For the world of Segal s portrayal, that wouldn t have been realistic, so it s unfair to compare in that regard We, too, are moderns and expect some degree of chaos The perfection of Wharton s creation, and the sheer social awareness she showed through her protagonist, made The Age of Innocence a five star book, though There was one particular point at which I thought Segal didn t do justice to her character Rachel in squeezing her into line with the prior book Nor could she reflect that sense of a reversible image between two possible worlds that Wharton captured.Also, Wharton s characters had to lose, much Excommunication from society meant losing everything Not so, nowadays, dishonorable though one s actions may be.The roles of women are different in the two eras The high class ladies of late nineteenth century New York were subject creatures, and the author and her protagonist Newland Archer had a sympathetic understanding of that In The Innocents, there is of a pretense that the women are free when, in fact, they aren t all that free, so they can become subject to hypocritical blame Adam s sister Olivia, on the other hand an academic who can appear eccentric relative to the setting from which she sprang has advanced many steps beyond Newland Archer s pitiful old maid sisterBoth these books are romances in the sense that the protagonists are learning morality through love They are learning in essence that the problems of three little people don t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world Casablanca I cannot understand why people simplify The Age of Innocence into nothing but a story of a man kept from happiness by the rules of his society, when, to me, it seemed much complex People and society are entangled so that one cannot be happy outside it Problematic though one s society may be, one cannot be seen apart from society, that is, can t be ripped from it In other words the individual is to society as a figure to its ground Back then, Newland Archer couldn t have been happy if he d run off with Countess Ellen Olenska he really couldn t have existed Going out on a limb until one falls isn t bravery but foolhardiness The step Newland Archer never took was not failing to run off but the step toward his wife but for that he couldn t take responsibility.Now I m putting forth all sorts of social theories Here s a quote from the new book that may shed light A minor male character says the following to our protagonist, followed by his reflections Empty convention, yes Of course I object But there s a place for meaningful, constructive social convention and principles I m not actually an anarchist, whatever misleading impression I might have given you He was laughing a little as he said this, but it was clear that he was affronted Adam in turn felt foolish That something was condemned by North West London s gossiping mothers did not, he realized, automatically make it brave They weren t wrong about everything their censure was not in fact an endorsement But why had that never occurred to him before And that s why, even though I gave The Innocents four stars instead of five, because I knew it had some little defects at points, its culmination is satisfying Because Adam Newman was able to take that step and stop pinning blame for his feelings on his wife Rachel.Fortunately, now society has unfolded new patterns so someone who doesn t find a fit in one branch still may find a home elsewhere but never truly outside Pressure, as in The Age of Innocence, does get exerted, and when it comes, it is like an iron vise It even made me think of family as in Mafia for just a minute But I thought it was for the best Maybe I wouldn t have thought that way during the youth revolution 60s and 70s or during the me generation years, but that was then Adam would have been making a big mistake, one that I don t think would have made him happy You will get a feel for the setting and that s interesting and instructive but could this plot unfold in some setting other than London s Jewish enclave That depends on whether the plot requires the well to do setting If so, then, in the U.S., it would have to be in the recent past, maybe before World War II or not long afterward, before everyone got so mobile, because this book depends on a community s being like a big family where everyone stays put and has known the parents and grandparents, plus knowing all one s friends since kindergarten Does that occur, for instance, with certain upper class groups in Great Britain We don t have that so much any in America Unless you want to jettison the aspect of wealth and set your plot in some left behind rural Appalachian area where the community has stayed put because they re trapped Update, Feb 1, 2014 Here s another interesting review with additional background material.Also I forgot to say that The Innocents was optioned for television and supposedly in development by the makers of Downton Abbey If anyone hears anything about that, please let me know, as I don t keep up very well with TV.

  10. says:

    Thank you to Hyperion Books for my early copy of The Innocents The Innocents is a story which delves into a man s pre wedding fears and how he wavers between doing what he knows is right and what his heart is telling him The story which is fashioned after Edith Wharton s The Age of Innocence is a classic that I have yet to read so I can t be too sure how closely the two stories are I don t believe that this would have been a story I would have snagged off the shelf to take home with me however, I enjoyed it nonetheless The detail given regarding the tight knit Jewish community was interesting and informative at first but after some time became hard to swallow More story and less historical information would have benefited this story in the long run.The writing itself was superb especially considering this is Francesca Segal s debut novel but the story itself fell a little flat for me The main issue I had was an inability to connect with the characters and understand their motives, especially the main character Adam I could understand his commitment doubts or wondering if he s made the right decision I could even understand him falling out of love with Rachel because it was apparent that their relationship had become stale complacent over the years The one thing I had a hard time understanding was his instant infatuation with Ellie In my opinion I would have preferred for the story to leave her as the catalyst that really set everything in motion rather than the new love interest Adam had had his doubts regarding taking the next big step to marriage before Ellie came into the picture but she was the one that really opened his eyes to a different path, a different life I think making her the love interest made the whole story too predictable Regardless, I did still enjoy it and I think fans of contemporary literature will enjoy this I plan on keeping an eye out for from Francesca Segal, she definitely has a talent for words.

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