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The Innocents by [Segal, Francesca]
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The Innocents Kindle Edition

3.4 out of 5 stars 90 customer reviews

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Length: 289 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product Description


"Stylish, witty, wonderfully moreish" (A.D. Miller)

"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)

"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)

"A beautiful, bittersweet novel" (Gin Phillips)

"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)

Book Description

WINNER OF THE COSTA FIRST NOVEL AWARD: a witty and utterly enjoyable debut - a very modern love story which tells the age-old tale of love, temptation, confusion, commitment, and coming to terms with the choices we've made

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 712 KB
  • Print Length: 289 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital (3 May 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007Q27W38
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars 90 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #123,682 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: 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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Adam has been going out with Rachel since they met on a trip to Israel as teenagers. Adam is a lawyer who works for the firm run by Rachel's father and at the start of the book they are engaged. Adam's life is following a predictable pattern for those in the North London Jewish Community - marry a nice jewish girl, settle down and raise the next generation of nice jewish boys and girls. Then Rachel's cousin Ellie appears on the scene. Fleeing scandal in New York, her affair with a married man, appearance in an art house film and subsequent removal from her postgraduate course at Columbia, Ellie moves to Europe to continue her modelling career. Adam falls hard for Ellie and this throws into question everything he has worked for and everything expected of him.

As a study of the mores of a particular slice of society this book is good but as a novel it fails to excite. Adam is a one-dimensional character and the choices he makes are obvious, even the ending is half-baked somewhat.
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Format: 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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