Book Review: A Certain Age: A Novel by Beatriz Williams 3 comments


Book Review A Certain Age by Beatriz Williams {living outside the stacks} #ACertainAge #TLCBookTours

This book was provided to me free of charge by HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.

My review is part of the TLC Book Tour.

Title: A Certain Age: A Novel

Author: Beatriz Williams

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

Release Date: Reprint Edition, 3 January 2017

Format: Paperback

Pages: 352

A Certain Age PB cover

ABOUT THE BOOK
The bestselling author of A Hundred Summers brings the Roaring Twenties brilliantly to life in this enchanting and compulsively readable tale of intrigue, romance, and scandal in New York Society, brimming with lush atmosphere, striking characters, and irresistible charm.

As the freedom of the Jazz Age transforms New York City, the iridescent Mrs. Theresa Marshall of Fifth Avenue and Southampton, Long Island, has done the unthinkable: she’s fallen in love with her young paramour, Captain Octavian Rofrano, a handsome aviator and hero of the Great War. An intense and deeply honorable man, Octavian is devoted to the beautiful socialite of a certain age and wants to marry her. While times are changing and she does adore the Boy, divorce for a woman of Theresa’s wealth and social standing is out of the question, and there is no need; she has an understanding with Sylvo, her generous and well-respected philanderer husband.

But their relationship subtly shifts when her bachelor brother, Ox, decides to tie the knot with the sweet younger daughter of a newly wealthy inventor. Engaging a longstanding family tradition, Theresa enlists the Boy to act as her brother’s cavalier, presenting the family’s diamond rose ring to Ox’s intended, Miss Sophie Fortescue—and to check into the background of the little-known Fortescue family. When Octavian meets Sophie, he falls under the spell of the pretty ingénue, even as he uncovers a shocking family secret. As the love triangle of Theresa, Octavian, and Sophie progresses, it transforms into a saga of divided loyalties, dangerous revelations, and surprising twists that will lead to a shocking transgression . . . and eventually force Theresa to make a bittersweet choice.

Full of the glamour, wit and delicious twists that are the hallmarks of Beatriz Williams’ fiction and alternating between Sophie’s spirited voice and Theresa’s vibrant timbre, A Certain Age is a beguiling reinterpretation of Richard Strauss’s comic opera Der Rosenkavalier, set against the sweeping decadence of Gatsby’s New York.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Beatriz Williams A Certain Age

A graduate of Stanford University with an MBA from Columbia, Beatriz Williams spent several years in New York and London hiding her early attempts at fiction, first on company laptops as a communications strategy consultant, and then as an at-home producer of small persons, before her career as a writer took off. She lives with her husband and four children near the Connecticut shore.

You can like her page on Facebook, see behind the scenes pictures on Instagram,  or follow her on Twitter.

MY OPINION

This novel is loosely based on the opera, Der Rosenkavalier, which is about the relationship and intrigue between an older woman, her much younger lover, her cousin, and his much younger fiancée.

First, I want to start with the title of the book: A Certain Age: A Novel. The title is just as much a character in the book as the people who embody the story. The sparkliness of the Jazz Age is vibrant in the various settings in which the story takes place: horse races, dinner parties, underground clubs, etc. And, simmering, just underneath that shiny exterior is the dark, shadowy hopelessness that embraced many Americans at the end of the war. Then, of course, there are the references to Theresa’s age, which is woven throughout the novel.

Theresa Marshall is a beautiful woman who is slowly coming to terms with the fact that she is getting older and is teetering on the edge of losing her looks and her desirability. Williams handles this realization in a relatable way. Theresa’s inner thoughts on her passing youth are expressed, not in a resentful way, but with a touch of melancholy and, maybe, a hint of envy. She knows that her days with her young lover are numbered, but she still tries to hold on to him even as she pushes him away.

The relationships between the various characters are intense at times. And all are tinged with a bit of sadness/neediness. Maybe even a bit of sadistic callousness. The engagement between Ox and Sophie looks to be more of a relationship of convenience {he needs money, despite his proclamations of love} than of authentic emotion. And Theresa doesn’t seem to be buying any of it. It’s her distrust of the relationship that sets all of the intrigue in motion.

The writing is effortless and the characters are well developed. And any novel that allows me to connect with the characters on a personal level, automatically goes into my favorites pile {sorry, Dr. Turner, I have to an emotional connection to the characters ~ be it love or hate ~ there has to be “something” in order for me to truly enjoy a novel}.

It also doesn’t hurt that this novel is set during one of my favorite eras: the Jazz Age. I so would’ve been a flapper.

This is my first time reading Beatriz Williams, but it won’t be my last. I now have a new author to add to my list of favorites.

There are some sex scenes and violence, but given the topic of the book, that’s to be expected.

I recommend this novel for book groups, as it’s a layered novel with many different themes. To facilitate discussion, this book contains a reading group guide.

MY FAVORITE SENTENCE/PASSAGE

“But why?” asks Sophie. “Wasn’t the old world good enough?”

“God, no. Look at our parents. Look at the war they foisted on us, all that nonsense about honor and duty and sacrifice. What did that ever get anybody? Dead, that’s all. Dead with nothing to show for it. Or else like my brother~in~law, coughing up each poor lung, bit by bit, trying to get the poison out. We’re free now, Sophie, free. We’ve got the vote, we’ve got cars and jobs and freedom.” page 100

RATING
★★★★

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Have you read this book? What were your thoughts? Let’s discuss…

Daenel T {Living Outside the Stacks}

 

 

 

 

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