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The Innocents Paperback – 10 Jan 2013

3.4 out of 5 stars 94 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (10 Jan. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099569523
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099569527
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 37,776 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

"Delightful… Segal’s writing is wise, witty and observant." (Kate Saunders The Times)

"Wonderful...witty…an astonishingly accomplished debut which will draw comparisons between Segal and Zadie Smith and Monica Ali." (Stylist)

"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" (Elizabeth Buchan Sunday Times)

"A subtle, witty and acutely observed study of a narrow but very recognisable world." (The Observer)

"Witty and touching... An assured and audacious debut" (Michael Arditti Daily Mail)

Book Description

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

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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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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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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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If you torment yourself with whether, as a good Jew, you occasionally want to break out of the mould, this is the book for you. Otherwise, it pretty tedious and the characters are hard to take, even for non practising Jews.
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l thought this book was a lot to do about nothing.............not much of a story............the jewish information was quite interesting
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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: Paperback
I want to start off by saying what an amazing debut novel this is, the author is accomplished in bringing together both the storyline and the characters, who I was rooting for all through the novel from the very first chapter. The main premise of the novel is about a Jewish community in the heart of London and the trials and tribulations that are faced, particularly by two characters, Adam and Rachel.

I loved both Adam and Rachel and felt that the author fairly provided a good outline of each of them - Rachel, the spoilt only daughter of parents who both love and protect her, even now that she is grown-up, and that of Adam, whose father died when he was young. Adam and Rachel at the beginning of the book have recently become engaged after being together for thirteen years, they met on an Israel tour, but then Rachel's cousin comes back into the picture and the story changes to reflect this, I do not want to give too much away.

I also loved all the other characters that Francesca Segal brought into the novel, I loved Ziva, who is a survivor of the Holocaust, and is the grandmother to both Rachel and Ellie, she is extremely well-drawn, each of the characters I could see in my mind and already had an idea of what they could be like in real life, I love it when a book manages to do that.

The Jewish community is a startlingly good idea as it allows for all the action to take place over a period of time but also have supporting characters who are able to interject, and sometimes, take over certain pieces of dialogue, particularly when it comes to the planning of the wedding, Adam would like something small and intimate, whereas Rachel and her mother would like a huge wedding, with lots of guests, a big wedding dress, and lots of expense.
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