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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Really interesting concept with great potential
Francesca Segal's The Innocents received a great deal of critical acclaim. Not only did it win the 2012 Costa First Novel award, it also won the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature in Fiction and made the shortlist for the Women's Prize for Fiction. But does it live up to the hype?

Loosely based on Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence, Francesca Segal's debut...
Published 18 months ago by Macey89

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A time filler only
This book disappointed me. It started as an interesting portrayal of the Jewish community in North London, centred around one young couple and their families, but to me, provided nothing further. Alex felt too one dimensional, and never really gained my empathy for his torment. The ending was ambiguous which was fine, but I found myself not caring one way or the other as...
Published 20 months ago by Kate Muggleton


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Really interesting concept with great potential, 7 Jun 2013
By 
Macey89 - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Innocents (Kindle Edition)
Francesca Segal's The Innocents received a great deal of critical acclaim. Not only did it win the 2012 Costa First Novel award, it also won the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature in Fiction and made the shortlist for the Women's Prize for Fiction. But does it live up to the hype?

Loosely based on Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence, Francesca Segal's debut novel follows childhood sweethearts Adam and Rachel. Their lives are threaded together in every way - from their intricate family relationships to the fact that Adam is a trusted employee of a business run by Rachel's father - so their engagement comes as little surprise to anyone in their immediate circle. But while Rachel is busy planning the perfect big day, Adam is having a crisis of confidence.

Full of self-doubt, Adam is torn between Rachel, as well as the inherent expectations that lie on him as a member of a tight-knit Jewish community, and her alluring, vibrant and vulnerable younger cousin Ellie. The antithesis to Rachel, Ellie is the family black sheep with a devil-may-care attitude to life. For Adam, already questioning his mapped out future as the perfect Jewish husband, her appearance is the catalyst that pushes him over the edge.

Some people have criticised this book for its in-depth descriptions of Jewish culture and community, but this was actually the aspect of the book that I most enjoyed. It's the most detailed discussion of Jewish society that I've ever read, and I found it really interesting.

However, I didn't feel that the central figures were in any way likeable. This was probably because we see everyone else from Adam's perspective, and for me, Adam is nothing but self-centred and weak. As a result, we see Rachel alternatively as either a homely and loving safe haven or a clingy and vapid black hole sucking him into a life that he's not sure he wants.

I'm not even really sure who can really be considered as `innocent'. Adam is lacking in any life experience, Rachel is clueless to all of her fiancé's misgivings and Ellie has her own childhood traumas leaving us questioning whether she's an instigator of trouble or a victim of her own troubled past. This may have been the very point that the author was trying to convey, that we are in fact all innocent in our own ways. But while the book read really well and I did enjoy it, I just couldn't relate to any of the characters.

Essentially, it all boils down to one simple question. How do we know if the grass is really greener on the other side, and is what we have ever good enough?
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elegant page-turner, 3 Sep 2013
By 
R. L. Isaacson "Rivka" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Innocents (Kindle Edition)
The Innocents is a lovely book - Segal has a wonderful way with words. The story is a modern-day telling of The Age of Innocence - I have to admit I read the original so long ago that I can't make an accurate comparison though I was grateful for the interval as it meant I could not predict the ending with certainty. I recently met a very serious woman who was reading The Innocents in parallel with The Age of Innocents chapter for chapter and she said, 'It is incredible what Segal has done'. I have no intention of carrying out this exercise but it was very interesting to hear from someone who had. For me, as a Jew living in North London, but not really from the kind of community described, I enjoyed the portrayal of local colour and familiar places and characters. The plot was compelling and I could not help but read it very quickly but the thing I loved most was the beautiful use of language.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A modern classic, 9 Sep 2013
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This review is from: The Innocents (Paperback)
I read this book when it was newly published but I must admit that the characters and plot have stayed with me and I find myself recommending it time and time again to friends particularly those who are about to be or newly married, though older friends and family have also enjoyed the book very much. As many reviewers have noted the language is beautiful and there are moments of delightful humour throughout. There are also wonderful passages of great clarity and wisdom which I find rare in new books. Although it is a modern reinterpretation of the Age of Innocence, it is so good that it feels like a classic in its own right, so I was not surprised when it won the Costa Award and I believe it has won various prestigious awards in the USA as well. More please Ms Segal!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Believable, 10 April 2013
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This review is from: The Innocents (Paperback)
As a North London Jewish girl, I could relate to much of this. Good story. I have also read the Edith Wharton original - this one is much more accessible.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars elegance and warmth, a rare combination, 4 Sep 2013
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This review is from: The Innocents (Paperback)
I read this book overnight, and closed it dazzled and moved by Segal's elegant prose, her humour and insight, and the blend of cool observation and warm humanity in her writing. It's a brave choice to re-imagine a classic novel, and Segal pays homage to Wharton whilst making the tone and characters entirely her own. She invites us into a vivid, fully realised world and manages to conjure its specifics and its universality. I found it funny, passionate and touching, and have passed it on to many friends. It's a book I'll read again, full of subtle treasures.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging, warm-hearted and truthful., 22 April 2013
By 
D. Blair "Crystal Tips" (East Sussex, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Innocents (Kindle Edition)
I saw this book in its paperback form in Waterstone's, the cover intrigued me so after reading the back I made a mental note of the title and looked for it on my Kindle. I'd read the reviews and seen that previous readers had criticised its in depth explanations of North London Jewish society, however, this was very appealing to me having grown up in a mixed marriage but sadly outside of a Jewish community.

The character of Rachel could have been expanded a little more but I think this goes against the grain of Adam, the protagonist. Having lost his father as a young child, I felt that emotionally he was at a loss and the author conveyed this well in Adam's inability to see his fiancee and later wife as her own person and therefore a fully rounded individual.
His attraction to Ellie is almost like a hiatus in his life, Adam has always been the Nice Jewish Boy who looked after his mother and sister, did everything that was expected of him, met the Nice Jewish Girl, went to university and law school, joined the law firm of his future father-in-law and is making his inevitable journey towards the chupah. Then Ellie, Rachel's cousin returns to London from New York and after his initial disapproval of her, Adam begins to see a kindred spirit in Ellie which turns into infatuation.

I loved the style of writing, Francesca Segal portrayed a very warm, supportive community in 'The Innocents' which I hope she returns to in future. I could imagine the places, people and homes she described and I could almost smell the latkes.....

I would recommend this book to my Book Group, along with a small glossary of Yiddish words and Jewish terminology. I thoroughly enjoyed it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life and tradition, 18 Sep 2013
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This review is from: The Innocents (Kindle Edition)
As a Jew I had laughed and sympathetic to the story' it had traditional Jewish humour.
It is well written and interesting and so true to north London community.
It is a good read for anyone who enjoys reading about life and what happens in families who support love each other in not just the family,extended families, but also the community In which they live .
It also had a realisation that the grass may be greener on the other side, but one never knows how precious life is until you nearly make a wrong decision.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read!, 13 Sep 2013
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This is one of those rare books which is a great, page turning read, but also a fine piece of literature in that it tells of eternal human truths about the nature of relationships, love, friendship and home. I would highly recommend this book, and can't wait to see what Francesca Segal comes out with next.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended, 11 Sep 2013
This review is from: The Innocents (Paperback)
I stormed through this novel - its extremely well written, very insightful and the characters are realistic and complex. I would highly recommend others to read it and was pleased to hear when it won the Costa First Novel Award.

I am looking forward to the next novel by Francesca Segal and expect this is to be the first book in a long list of great books!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a lovely book, 3 Sep 2013
This review is from: The Innocents (Paperback)
Francesca is a great writer - and her novel is entertaining, witty and astutely observed. I thoroughly enjoyed it and was gripped from start to finish. I really look forward to her next book in what will surely be a long and glittering writing career.
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The Innocents
The Innocents by Francesca Segal (Hardcover - 3 May 2012)
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