The Innocents (Paperback)
June 2012 Indie Next List
“Although the plot of The Innocents follows the 'man in love with his wife's cousin' formula, it is anything but stale and predictable. Caught in the loving web of his huge Jewish family, Adam Newman struggles to do the right thing while being true to himself and honest with others. Through wonderful, sometimes tragic and often quirky characters, Segal offers finely honed truths about humanity. I highly recommend this book -- a wonderful summer read with some guts to it!”
— Susan Tyler, The Book Bin, Onley, VA
*** Winner of the 2012 Costa First Novel Award *** *** Winner of the 2013 Harold U. Ribalow Prize, the 2013 Sam Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature, the 2012 Costa First Novel Award, and the 2012 National Jewish Book Award for Fiction *** 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?
About the Author
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.
"An emotionally and intellectually astute debut."—Kirkus
"[A] delightful first novel... wise, witty and observant."—The London Times
"Segal writes with an understated elegance."—The Observer (UK)
"[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)
"A crafty homage [Segal] writes with engaging warmth."—Entertainment Weekly, Grade: B+
"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 by the daughter of author Erich Segal."—Library Journal (Starred Review)
"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)