The Innocents

By Francesca Segal (Hardcover Book, 2012)
*** Winner of the 2012 Costa First Novel Award *** "It is impossible to resist this novel's wit, grace, and charm."
--Lauren Groff, author of The Monsters of Templeton and Arcadia

A smart and slyly funny tale of love, temptation, confusion, and commitment; a triumphant and beautifully executed recasting of Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence.

Newly engaged and unthinkingly self-satisfied, twenty-eight-year-old Adam Newman is the prize catch of Temple Fortune, a small, tight-knit Jewish suburb of London. He has been dating Rachel Gilbert since they were both sixteen and now, to the relief and happiness of the entire Gilbert family, they are finally to marry. To Adam, Rachel embodies the highest values of Temple Fortune; she is innocent, conventional, and entirely secure in her community--a place in which everyone still knows the whereabouts of their nursery school classmates. Marrying Rachel will cement Adam's role in a warm, inclusive family he loves.

But as the vast machinery of the wedding gathers momentum, Adam feels the first faint touches of claustrophobia, and when Rachel's younger cousin Ellie Schneider moves home from New York, she unsettles Adam more than he'd care to admit. Ellie--beautiful, vulnerable, and fiercely independent--offers a liberation that he hadn't known existed: a freedom from the loving interference and frustrating parochialism of North West London. Adam finds himself questioning everything, suddenly torn between security and exhilaration, tradition and independence. What might he be missing by staying close to home?
  • Hyperion
    • Format: Hardcover Book

    • Price: $25.99 US

    • ISBN-13: 9781401341817

    • On Sale Date: 06/05/2012

    • Publisher: Hyperion

    • Imprint: Hyperion

    Formats Available: Trade Paperback, Hardcover Book, Electronic Book, Audiobook

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*** Winner of the 2012 Costa First Novel Award *** "It is impossible to resist this novel's wit, grace, and charm."
--Lauren Groff, author of The Monsters of Templeton and Arcadia

A smart and slyly funny tale of love, temptation, confusion, and commitment; a triumphant and beautifully executed recasting of Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence.

Newly engaged and unthinkingly self-satisfied, twenty-eight-year-old Adam Newman is the prize catch of Temple Fortune, a small, tight-knit Jewish suburb of London. He has been dating Rachel Gilbert since they were both sixteen and now, to the relief and happiness of the entire Gilbert family, they are finally to marry. To Adam, Rachel embodies the highest values of Temple Fortune; she is innocent, conventional, and entirely secure in her community--a place in which everyone still knows the whereabouts of their nursery school classmates. Marrying Rachel will cement Adam's role in a warm, inclusive family he loves.

But as the vast machinery of the wedding gathers momentum, Adam feels the first faint touches of claustrophobia, and when Rachel's younger cousin Ellie Schneider moves home from New York, she unsettles Adam more than he'd care to admit. Ellie--beautiful, vulnerable, and fiercely independent--offers a liberation that he hadn't known existed: a freedom from the loving interference and frustrating parochialism of North West London. Adam finds himself questioning everything, suddenly torn between security and exhilaration, tradition and independence. What might he be missing by staying close to home?

Francesca Segal was born in London in 1980. The daughter of a writer and an editor, she studied at Oxford and Harvard University before becoming a journalist and critic. Her work has appeared in Granta, The Guardian, The Observer, The Daily Telegraph, FT Magazine, and The JC, amongst others. For three years she wrote the Debut Fiction Column in The Observer and has been a features writer at Tatler. She divides her time between London and New York.
  • "It is impossible to resist this novel's wit, grace, and charm." (Lauren Groff, author of The Monsters of Templeton and Arcadia).

  • "An emotionally and intellectually astute debut." (Kirkus).

  • "A humorous and touching re-working of Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence . . .  It takes chutzpah to appropriate such a well-loved classic, but Segal parallels the two convention-bound worlds with enviable assurance." (The Independent).

  • "In Segal's bittersweet novel characters embrace their 21st-century right to ambivalence about social continuity." (O, the Oprah Magazine).

  • "Despite being a reworking of a novel written a century ago, the central story transcends time, reflecting the omnipresence of love and its confusing web of duty, confusion, temptation and lust." (The Lady).

  • "[A] sonorous debut novel [Segal] is a writer of instinctive warmth." (Standpoint magazine).

  • "[A] delicious novel Like [Edith] Wharton, Segal has created fully formed worlds and evoked their insularity and rules of civility with insight and panache." (Chicago Tribune, Editor's Choice).

  • "A crafty homage. . . . [Segal] writes with engaging warmth." (Entertainment Weekly, Grade: B+).

  • "Segal's well-honed prose made me want to keep reading Ms. Segal breathes new life into what could easily have been a tired retread." (Pittsburgh Post Gazette).

  • "[A] charming modern take on Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence. With understated wit, empathy and a cinematic eye of detail, Segal brings alive a host of characters so robust that you can easily imagine them onscreen. A winning debut novel." (People (***1/2 stars)).

  • "[An] impressive debut . . . what makes The Innocents so smart and compelling is the way in which Segal renders the story entirely her own. Via her expert knowledge of her characters' milieu, readers are granted intimate access to a wonderfully specific world." (BookPage).

  • "Great summer read." (Ladies Home Journal).

  • "Francesca Segal knows how to tell a story - and also how to bring new insight into a classic tale." (NY Jewish Week).

  • "Segal captures perfectly the pressures and expectations of life as a Jewish young professional. . . . Mirrors have been more flattering but rarely as truthful and enjoyable. " (The Jewish Chronicle).

  • "Readers who enjoy fast-paced, gently satirical literary novels, fans of Allegra Goodman, and book group participants will find a Shabbat dinner's worth of noshing in this accomplished debut novel." (Library Journal).

  • "In The Innocents, Francesca Segal very cleverly discovers that which is common between Edith Wharton's New York and her own North London, between the 1870's and today. In doing so she reveals what is universal in life and love - and that is what good literature always does." (Peter Ferry, author of Travel Writing).

  • "The Innocents is written with wisdom and deliciously subtle wit, in the tradition of Jane Austen and Nancy Mitford. Francesca Segal has a remarkable ability to bring characters vividly to life who are at once warm, funny, complex, and utterly recognizable. This is a wonderfully readable novel: elegant, accomplished and romantic." (Andre Aciman, author of the award-winning Out of Egypt, Call Me by Your Name, and most recently Alibis).

  • "A moving, funny, richly drawn story of a young man's attempts to find out who he wants to be when there are so many others who know best. Full of real pleasures and unexpected wisdom this book sweeps you along." (Esther Freud, author of Love Falls and, most recently, Lucky Break).

  • "Francesca Segal's lustrous debut  may have begun as a seed shaken from Edith Wharton's masterpiece, The Age of Innocence, but only a few pages will show how completely Segal has made The Innocents her own. The setting--a vibrant if enclosed London Jewish community--is beautifully counterbalanced by Segal's wry and compassionate voice. It is impossible to resist this novel's wit, grace, and charm." (Lauren Groff, bestselling author of The Monsters of Templeton and Arcadia).

  • "The Innocents is an exuberant, sensitive, witty novel, elegantly-written, partly a study of universal dramas of love, marriage and fear, partly a very modern, sassy London story, partly a Jewish novel. I found it irresistible." (Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of Jerusalem: the Biography).

  • "In Francesca Segal's capable hands, The Age of Innocence is transformed into a very contemporary novel of religious traditions, financial misdeeds, and the way family happiness sustains and strangles. Writing with warmth, humor, and control, Segal brings to life an impressively large cast of characters, and makes The Innocents a generous, memorable first novel that I found hard to put down." (Stephen McCauley, author of The Object of My Affection and Insignificant Others).

  • "I was captivated by this alluring novel. The Innocents is a deliciously subtle and contemporary take on the perennial conflict between duty and desire. Francesca Segal writes with dazzling psychological precision, conjuring up characters who are complex, engaging and utterly real, and exploring the dilemmas they face with a delicate wisdom." (Margaret Leroy, author of The Soldier's Wife).

  • "In transposing Edith Wharton's tale of WASP New York to contemporary Jewish London, Francesca Segal serves up an Old World feast, mit schlag!" (Thomas Rayfiel, author of Colony Girl).

  • "Inspired by The Age of Innocence, Segal's book is warmer, funnier, and paints a more dynamic and human portrait of a functional community that is a wonderful juxtaposition to Wharton's cold social strata." (Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)).

  • "An astonishingly accomplished debut which, with its witty and intelligent depiction of life in modern Britain, will draw comparisons between Segal and authors Zadie Smith and Monica Ali." (Stylist).

  • "[A] delightful first novel . . . Segal's writing is wise, witty and observant." (The London Times).

  • "[An] impressive debut . . . The struggle to achieve true adulthood, the loss of innocence and the consequences of adapting to a culture that levies certain expectations on its members, are all cleverly worked into a poised text." (The Sunday Times).

  • "The Innocents is compelling and Segal writes with an understated elegance." (The Observer (UK)).

  • "Never hits a bum note. At times it is charmingly, knowingly dainty to reflect the story's origins. . . . I'm half-tempted to read the original, but I fear it wouldn't measure up." (London Evening Standard).

  • "A well-tuned portrait of a couple whose connection proves to be much more tenuous than expected, and of religious rituals that prove more meaningful than they seem. Segal thoughtfully ties in family Holocaust lore and high-holiday gatherings to show that those long-standing bonds are tough to break. . . . an emotionally and intellectually astute debut." (Kirkus).

  • "The book is full of delightful moments ... Segal took the theme of a well-known novel and made it her own. Lively and entertaining." (Sunday Examiner Washington).

  • "With understated wit, empathy and a cinematic eye of detail, Segal brings alive a host of characters so robust that you can easily imagine them onscreen... A winning debut novel." (People).

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Product Details

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  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • Price: $25.99 US
  • Pages: 288
  • Physical Dimensions: 6-1/8" x 9-1/4"
  • Audio Run Time: 0
  • ISBN-13: 9781401341817
  • On Sale Date: 06/05/2012
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