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The Innocents

3.16  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,304 Ratings  ·  737 Reviews

What if everything you'd ever wanted was no longer enough?

Adam and Rachel are getting married at last. Childhood sweethearts whose lives and families have been intertwined for years; theirs is set to be the wedding of the year.

But then Rachel's cousin Ellie makes an unexpected return to the family fold. Beautiful, reckless and trou
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published June 5th 2012 by Hachette Books (first published January 1st 2012)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Don't be put off by my three-star rating. The writing is superb. Quite stunning, really, for a first novel. It's just one of those stories in which very little occurs, aside from the dailiness of life in a wealthy, tightly-knit community. This novel is modeled after Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence, which is also a well-written book in which nothing much happens.

The most appealing thing for me about the story is its Jewishness. For a non-Jew like me, there was a lot to discover.
switterbug (Betsey)
Feb 01, 2014 switterbug (Betsey) rated it really liked it
This is an enjoyable and relatively conventional suburban drama of a close-knit Jewish community in NW London. Likewise, I applaud this debut author's unspoken but sublime irony and chutzpah in her choice to revitalize but change the original version of THE AGE OF INNOCENCE, a novel written by the celebrated, anti-Semitic author, Edith Wharton, that won the Pulitzer Prize in 1921! (Wharton, Scott Fitzgerald, and Henry James were all privileged people of their times) Segal gets the last laugh by ...more
Mar 24, 2013 Elaine rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
This was a 2.5, but I'm giving it a first novelist .5 bump up. This had the same affect as Song of Achilles -- it just made me want to re-read the source material, Edith Wharton's brilliant Age of Innocence. The central problem with The Innocents is, in fact, its source material -- the entire book feels like a mental exercise -- "how can we re-create the rigid hierarchies and complex social codes of 1870s upper-crust New York in the modern world?" It's a difficult problem, since we live in a mob ...more
Aug 16, 2012 Jennifer rated it did not like it
When I started reading this book, right off the bat, I thought "this reminds me of 'The Age of Innocence'". And then I read a bit more and realized, this IS "The Age of Innocence" except the names, place and religion of the main characters is different! Instead of late 19th century New York, the story is set in 21st century London, in a close-knit Jewish community. It is almost like she had an Age of Innocence template, and inserted (date), (name), (place) and the computer spit out this book.

Elisha Singer
Nov 22, 2012 Elisha Singer rated it did not like it
I really had issues with this book. I can't count the number of times where I wanted to physically shake one character or another. I think that is the crux of my problem with this novel: I had a difficult time liking the main characters. Adam, our "hero" (and I use the term loosely) is a putz. I wanted to smack some sense into him and force him to make a decision. There were so many times I wanted to stop reading because I genuinely didn't like him. His fiancée also got on my nerves. I wanted he ...more
Rebecca Foster
(4.5) What a stunning debut from Francesca Segal. A 32-year-old first-time novelist has no business writing such a sophisticated, pitch-perfect homage to Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence. Her strategy is that of Zadie Smith in her gorgeous On Beauty: giving a classic novel a new home in contemporary north London, but staying true to the emotional content – the interplay of love and desire, jealousy and frustration (in Smith’s case, the model is E.M. Forster’s Howards End). And yet knowledge ...more
Jan Rice
Feb 02, 2014 Jan Rice rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
In the rotation of crops there was a recognized season for wild oats, but they were not to be sown more than once. Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence

This epigraph marks the start of The Innocents, so what instigated my reading The Age of Innocence a little while ago is now apparent. The Innocents is a modern retelling of the classic. Fun!

**Spoiler Advisory** This book is based on a classic so of necessity some plot points may come up. If you've never read The Age of Innocence or seen the movi
Larry Hoffer
Jul 10, 2012 Larry Hoffer rated it it was amazing
Maybe it's just me, but have you ever been reading a book that, if you didn't have other obligations, you would finish in one day, or even one sitting? If I had had the chance, I would have devoured Francesca Segal's excellent The Innocents in one day. But having to slow down my pace allowed me to savor it a little more, which certainly wasn't a bad thing.

Inspired by Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence, yet set in Temple Fortune, a close-knit Jewish suburb of northwest London, the book follows
Nov 14, 2015 Bonnie rated it liked it
Thank you to Hyperion Books for my early copy of The Innocents!

'The Innocents' is a story which delves into a man's pre-wedding fears and how he wavers between doing what he knows is right and what his heart is telling him. The story which is fashioned after Edith Wharton's 'The Age of Innocence' is a classic that I have yet to read so I can't be too sure how closely the two stories are. I don't believe that this would have been a story I would have snagged off the shelf to take home with me; ho
Rabbi Andrea
Aug 26, 2012 Rabbi Andrea rated it liked it
Edith Warthon Age of Innocence located in North London Jewish community. It takes certainly hutzpah to turn the work of an Anti-semite writer into a Jewish novel. Segal managed to do it, and the result is a good read. But the pattern is probably too evident.
The literary play is sophisticated and definitively enjoyable. My favourite: in this British Jewish family, there is an Israeli elderly lady, so much "in-your-face" kind of person, and definitively not-British (English is not her native tong
Lydia Presley
Jul 08, 2012 Lydia Presley rated it it was amazing
I've read so many good books in the last few weeks, and I like to think it's because I'm finally improving in my selections. The Innocents by Francesca Segal is another notch in that thought-process belt, because this is one story that packed a punch for me, subtle as it was.

I hadn't heard of this title until it cropped up on a list of modern day adaptations of novels that should be read. The cover of this one caught my eye, and although I haven't read Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence, the i
Apr 23, 2013 K rated it it was ok
Shelves: jewish
I never read The Age of Innocence, so I can't judge this as a retelling. But as a stand-alone book, it really didn't work for me.

The basic story is that Adam, who has dated Rachel for 12 years and is finally engaged to her, suddenly falls passionately in love with Rachel's cousin Ellie, your classic angsty manic pixie dream girl, gorgeous and troubled and dysfunctional and also brilliant and deep of course, lest you think this is just about lust or anything. The subtext, if you can call it that
Mar 25, 2013 M rated it liked it
Retellings are a complicated genre for me. On the one hand, they strike me as lazy and glorified plagiarism, and I therefore feel the stakes are that much higher. Can this book stand on its own? Should it be able to? Is it offering new insight to the previous work? Does the story suffer for having to meet a contrived criteria rather than grow organically?
I have had some bad experiences in the world of retellings - Edgar Sawtelle, for one, where it seemed to just be "ha ha, look, the uncle's name
Feb 06, 2016 Jennifer rated it liked it
Shelves: audio, 2016
3.5 Stars
This is an updated retelling of Wharton's The Age of Innocence. I'm not really a big fan of updated retellings of anything but this got some great reviews on GoodReads and I decided to give it a try. Of course, it made me realize that I never actually read The Age of Innocence and instead I'm comparing this to to the movie version (how pedestrian of me!) and throughout the story I did find myself mentally matching up events. I thought it was a great idea to set this in a very closed Lo
Mary Beth
Aug 22, 2012 Mary Beth rated it liked it
Probably I would have enjoyed this book a bit more if so many reviews hadn't compared it to "The Age of Innocence." Who could live up to that? Really? Sure, the parallels are there, but Wharton's book is a classic, and Segal's pretty forgettable.
The writing was flowing and the portrayal of Jewish life in London's upper crust neighborhoods was very interesting. It was the central characters that I roundly detested.
Adam Newman? A stupid young man who makes predictable choices when he thinks with
Dec 22, 2013 Simon rated it it was ok
When I was growing up in England, in the 60s and 70s, Mike Yarwood was a big presence on TV. He did impressions - I remember his Ted Heath and Harold Wilson, and there were tons of others. I love impressions like that. Also, a good cover of a song I like is way more enjoyable to me for being a cover. I feel these two passions are connected, though I can't quite see how, since impressions are better the more like the original they are, while covers must both resemble and differ from the original ...more
Oct 28, 2012 Carol rated it did not like it
This is Edith Wharton's "The Age of Innocence" - a rewrite of an old story in new clothes. I'm becoming weary of rewrites of old classics. I think I may write an update of "Pride and Prejudice," bring it into the 1970's, rename all the characters, have it take place in New York City, hope some publisher will buy it, publish it, I will make lots of money and be called an author!

Oct 02, 2012 Sarah rated it it was ok
I really should have just read 'Age of Innocence' instead.

This was a cheap 'modern re-telling' of Age of Innocence, and it was agonizing to get through. I actually kept leaving it alone while I read other books, then came back to it.

So the protagonist, Adam, is happy and content to marry his longtime girlfriend Rachel. They are part of a very traditional Jewish family with 'values.' Things take a turn for the unexpected when Rachel's cousin Ellie appears on the scene and Adam is ridiculously at
May 23, 2012 Valentina rated it it was ok
It’s a tricky task to retell a well known and well loved story. It’s rarely a successful undertaking, and this book, unfortunately, is not an exception.
This is a retelling of Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence, a wonderfully complex book woven around the upper crust of Victorian New York society. In this version, the plot takes place in London, in a wealthy Jewish community. The main issue is that so much of the nuances in the original are completely lost in this version. Everything is thrown
Jun 26, 2014 Kathryn rated it it was amazing
This book is based on The Age of Innocence, one of my favorite novels of all time. That could make me biased, but it usually just makes me highly judgmental. For example, I HATED the movie, despite its "award-winning" sheen. I thought it had no soul compared to the book. Not so The Innocents. It's very hard to duplicate, in modern times, the kind of close-knit and closed culture of early 20th century New York society, but Segal finds the perfect modern foil--a middle-class Jewish suburb of Londo ...more
Mar 05, 2013 Meera rated it liked it
There's been a lot of hype about this book, and its not quite as clever as it thinks it is. Basically its Wharton's Age of Innocence (which I've now got to read, as I imagine its better!) transposed to modern day London and an elite Jewish enclave who live in Hampstead Garden Suburb. It is really well written, and I was intrigued about the way that the Jewish community live their lives in such an insular fashion (if what the author says is true) - I had to laugh when the protagonist Adam feels h ...more
3.5+ stars. Based on an Edith Wharton novel, one of my favorite authors (this is based on Age of Innocence, though, and I personally prefer House of Mirth). This focuses on a tight-knit circle of Jewish friends/family in London (interesting choice given Wharton’s anti-Semitism). More specifically it focuses on Adam and his fiancée/new wife Rachel. The writing is sharp and funny and most of the characters clearly drawn, with the exception of Adam, which is odd since he is the protagonist. I didn’ ...more
Apr 28, 2013 Sari rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, read-2013
I loved this book!!

While the plot could be summarized as nice Jewish boy meets and marries nice Jewish girl, while lusting after nice Jewish girl's not so nice (at least by alleged reputation) female cousin, the author sets this story in a close-knit British Jewish community. It is the respect that the main characters have for their religious traditions and the loyalty and love that the characters have for each other, their family, and their close friends, that elevates this relatively simple t
Bookkaholic Magazine
(See our full review over at Bookkaholic.) What a stunning debut from Francesca Segal. Each character is expertly drawn, from Adam’s sex-obsessed best mate to a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor and matriarch. This story of longing and dissatisfaction in London’s Jewish suburbia pairs brilliantly with Wharton’s elegant examination of upper-class society life.
Feb 12, 2015 Helen rated it it was ok
I have just read a book that was about nothing. No deaths, no arguments, no separations, no feuds, no fights, no divorces, no squealing of tyres - nothing! I will give one star for the jealousy-inducing descriptions of lifestyles and closeness of wealthy Jewish families in North London and, grudgingly, another for the descriptions of their lavish meals. Next!
Oct 01, 2014 Ariella rated it liked it
I honestly don't know how to rate this book. Parts of it I really liked, parts of it I just didn't for different reasons.

This is a modern-day take on Edith Wharton's "The Age of Innocence" and takes place in London. Just as the Age of Innocence (AofI) is a social commentary on the turn if 20th century New York society, this book too tries to be/ wants to be/ is a social commentary on Jewish life in northwest London in the 21st century. I'm not sure it fully succeeds and it certainly doesn't rea
Feb 03, 2014 Janine rated it really liked it
This gets 4.5 stars from me because it's very well written and evocative of an exclusive social milieu. The author captures both the traditions and the closeness, bordering on claustrophobia, of a tight-knit Jewish community in contemporary London. For a non-Jew it was quite educational. Edith Wharton is one of my favourite authors so I relished the chance to read a re-working of The Age of Innocence. Appropriating the plot of a well-known book is fraught with dangers but Ms Segal does the origi ...more
Aug 14, 2012 Susie rated it really liked it
The remaking of any classic is shark infested waters, and I give Segal her due in attempting to redo "The Age of Innocence." I thought, "really, really? She's going to do this?" because this is one of my favorite books of all time.

I had severe qualms on how Segal could transition a novel set in unique traditional Old New York, and translate the plot to a present day situation where confining standards, morals, and high values would take precedence, and a community could play such an integral p
Emily Crowe
Mar 13, 2012 Emily Crowe rated it liked it
Okay, I'm just going to say this up front: the first time I picked up The Innocents, it was for the beautiful cover. I was completely drawn to it. Then my sales rep told me that it was a retelling of Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence, at which point I was totally sold. Ethan Frome notwithstanding, I'm a big fan of Wharton, and though The Age of Innocence isn't my favorite of her books, I knew that this book would go home with me to start reading right away.

Francesca Segal transplants Wharton'
This is basically a remake of The Age of Innocence. It hasn't been all that long ago that I plowed through it. If you haven't read either, this one is much easier and enjoyable to read. But if you're read TAOI, then I'd skip this--really, it's the same book except for the differences of time and setting. Sure people go and watch remakes of movies, so why not books? I'd give the story 3 stars, but I knocked one off because well, Segal knocked this off.

This was the same case with When She Woke as
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Winner of the 2012 Costa Prize for First Fiction.
Winner of the 2012 National Jewish Book Award for Fiction
Winner of the 2013 Sami Rohr Prize
Winner of the 2013 Premio Letterario Edoardo Kihlgren Opera Prima in Milan
Winner of the 2013 Harold U. Ribalow Prize

Long-listed for the 2013 Women's Prize for Fiction

Francesca Segal is an award-winning writer and journalist. Her work has appeared in Granta, th
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“The marriage of a Jewish son is a bittersweet prospect. There is relief, always, that he has navigated the tantalizing and plentiful assemblies of non-Jewish women to whom the children of the Diaspora are inevitably exposed: from the moment he enters secondary school there is the constant anxiety that a blue-eyed Christina or Mary will lure him away from the tribe. Jewish men are widely known to be uxorious in all the most advantageous ways. And so each mother fears that, whether he be short and myopic, boorish or stupid or prone to discuss his lactose intolerance with strangers, whether he be blessed with a beard rising almost to meet his hairline, he is still within the danger zone. Somewhere out there is a shiksa with designs on her son. Jewish men make good husbands. It is the Jewish woman's blessing as a wife, and her curse as a mother.” 2 likes
“It had been the most relaxed that either of them had been for as long as he could remember--certainly since their engagement. Rachel had spun and twittered for the first few days, disoriented without a wedding as the epicenter of her near future. But the pleasure of the postmortem and of being, finally, just the two of them, had aided her recovery. By the end of the first week she was almost convincing when she said brightly, 'I'm so glad it's all over and we get to get on with normal life!' She had repeated this assertion a lot since they'd arrived, but that had been the first time that she hadn't sounded crestfallen.” 1 likes
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