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A Certain Age

3.18  ·  Rating details ·  989 ratings  ·  52 reviews
From the bestselling author of Slaves of New York comes a hilarious, clear-eyed, satiric novel about the sad plight of a misguided woman on the make in Manhattan. Thirty-two-year-old Florence Collins is an "aging filly-about-town"--still beautiful enough to be (sometimes) invited to the best parties and the right restaurants, but unmarried and rapidly going broke. In her w ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published July 5th 2000 by Anchor (first published June 17th 1999)
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Average rating 3.18  · 
Rating details
 ·  989 ratings  ·  52 reviews

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Jul 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
I love this book. It's a retelling of sorts of Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth. The main character is a borderline sociopathic, shopaholic, shallow victim whose life slowly goes from bad to worse following a Hamptons weekend at a "friend's" home. I don't know why I like this book so much -- the characters are so flat and unsympathetic -- but I really do. I also love Slaves of New York, my copy is old and dog-eared.
Aug 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wow! I thought this would be a load of junk, but it's magnificently written, raw and hideous. This book does a fantastic job of illustrating through and through exactly why I left New York City and never looked back. Granted, I have never, will never be as vain and vacuous as Florence and her friends but at the same time, there is so much truth in the way the writer describes how people in NYC lose interests in everything you say after you get out two sentences, unless it is in regards to themse ...more
Heather G
Jun 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is a bit trashy with some dark humor (nothing violent, just depressing). I read this in my late 20s and for some reason the book really stuck with me. I've reread it a few times and keep a copy on my shelf.
What happens to the main character is scary and you feel it, even tho she's unlikeable.
Puma Perl
Jan 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This isn't great literature but it is a book I return to over and over again. I finally figured out why. Originally published in 1999, it presents a cast of callow, unlikeable characters, not a pure heart in the bunch. It is a satirical look at the false values and materialism of our culture. The reason I keep going back to it is because, slowly but surely, the island of Manhattan has turned into Jamowitz's landscape. Unaffordable to anyone but the rich, and lines around the block for $12 ice cr ...more
Esther Hardwick
Apr 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
I read this book last year, as recommended by my Estonian colleague. She warned me in her cool accent, that it was a 'trashy book' (her words), but she loved it. She was right. I did struggle in the beginning to keep the characters straight and as I got to the 3rd chapter, found myself re-reading the 1st chapter, to get my bearings. I felt bad for the main character and travelled the downward spiral with her. It's definitely not a 'feel good' type of book. I've also never been to NY but could vi ...more
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really liked this book, well written, could not put it down.
I would like to read Tama Janowitz’ s another books as well. Sure, next one would be Slaves of New York.
Tal Goretsky
Sep 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: girls and gays
This is a terrific novel about a New York woman in her 30s who starts feeling the social implications of lacking a rich husband. Her downward spiral within the Hamptons Jitney set while she tries to snap up a suitable man is funny and sad. The writing is so good that the story unfurls like a movie, and I could actually hear the Saint Etienne album Good Humour in my head while reading it.
Aug 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I love this novel so much. I read it years ago but i reread it every now and then. I liked the description very much I can feel the cool air coming from the a/c on my skin!
Jun 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Probably my fav book so far this year.
Nia Forrester
Sep 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: profound
Scary book. If you ever lived in NYC, you will recognize Florence, the main protagonist in this novel - the aging party girl living on the fringes of high society, hoping to bag a wealthy husband who will bankroll her aspirations to become one of the indolent upper classes. The downward spiral of this character as she embarks upon this wrongheaded pursuit will haunt you. Not profound in the traditional sense - it's certainly very easy to read, but it raises interesting questions about status, su ...more
Jun 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
I read this book a few years ago when I was in college. I loved it... it made me want to move to New York and experience life there.
Mar 28, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: doneanddone
just another book about a social climbing woman who can't balance her check book. (not that i can balance my check book, but this isn't about me). i want to think this book is sattire, but i fear that 90 percent of its readers won't see it that way. think "lily bart" in "house of mirth." ...more
Madeleine Fix-hansen
This book is an eerie walk through a certain social milieu in NYC. A modern day Victorian woman's fall from grace. It's a disconcerting book overall. The protagonist is not likeable - the book makes you walk through the disaster of her life and shallow choices. I found myself grasping & hoping to be able to change tracks and hang out more with the other, more likeable, characters who enter and exit throughout the plot. Not to be. This is a pretty grueling book. You will not feel particularly goo ...more
Rachel Louise Atkin
May 22, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: owned, new-york
Feel very hit and miss with Tama's books and this one just wasn't good. I think the further she gets from the 80s postmodernists, the less interesting her writing is, as horrible as that might be to say. This was just about an average white woman in New York and her snobbish friends. There was nothing particularly bad about it, it just wasn't anything exciting, new or thought-provoking. I think Tama wrote so well early on in her career, and even though her writing is still incredibly witty in th ...more
Ronald Wise
Even though I suspect a lot of the reported humor in this book went by me undetected, I found this novel compelling. I never knew what to expect, as I never felt that a satisfactory ending was guaranteed... or even expected. A review quote on the dust cover said it was hilarious. The characters and situations were often Seinfeldian, but I suspect there was some designer-label humor that I didn't get.

This book was first published in 1999, but is obviously about the 1980s - no cell phones, no Int
Charlotte Dickens
Jan 08, 2015 rated it liked it
I thought Tama Janowitz presented a myriad of details about life in New York City, which was the best aspect of this book. It was a satire, and it certainly shows how a woman was wasting her life trying to find a rich man to marry without developing anything within herself to sustain her. The ultimate foolishness displayed by Florence was that she completely ignored such a man who was in love with her because she did not realize that he was well-to-do. I grew very impatient with the vacuous Flor ...more
Jan 03, 2008 rated it liked it
A fun and intelligent re-imagining of "House of Mirth." Janowitz's characteristic oddball wit is in good form here. Aside from being enjoyable, "A Certain Age: A Novel," in the tradition of Wharton and Austen, provides mostly successful social commentary on the lives of certain women at the beginning of the 21st century. Recommended. ...more
Aug 18, 2007 rated it it was ok
Janowitz has a great comic voice, but here it seems forced. Rather than starting with a hilarious character, I think she started this book with a premise about the evils of materialism. The whole thing seemed didactic.
Sep 16, 2008 rated it did not like it
This is one of the worst novels I've ever read. The main character is completely unlikeable and depraved. All of the characters are treated contemptuously by the author. I have no idea why I finished it! ...more
Laura Gembolis
Apr 12, 2014 rated it it was ok
It starts out light. The character is obsessed with money and status. Because of this, she compromises herself and dismisses the people who really like her. I read to the end to see if she would wake up.
Jun 23, 2008 rated it did not like it
Hated it - a bad update of "House of Mirth" ...more
Feb 10, 2009 rated it did not like it
One of those books I'm pretty sure I read, but is so indistinctive as to leave no imprint in my brain. ...more
Aug 03, 2009 rated it did not like it
Never have I wanted to slap someone as badly as I wanted to slap Florence. What a waste of time.
Feb 22, 2021 added it
This book was pretty bad by 2021 standards (and in general?), but there was a point midway through when I realized it has a ton in common with "My Year of Rest and Relaxation," a 2019 book that I think I liked. It's the story of a beautiful, wealthy person's epic self-destruction. You can't put it down, and then you feel weird about that. But unlike "Rest and Relaxation," the writing in this book is cringe-worthy. Certain descriptions of things were just...repeated randomly, and the word "scuttl ...more
Belinda Fry
May 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Disliked the main character; what a snob and narcistic snob.
Jerry Balzano
Mar 06, 2011 rated it did not like it
(First read, pre-2010)
I don't often dislike a book to the extent that I disliked this book. My wife and I often read books together, to each other, and we both hated this one. The female protagonist is appropriately depicted on the cover, because it seems as though every single situation in which she encounters a male in the book, she ends up on her back! Who wants to read about a woman like that? She lets every person in her life take advantage of her, and seems singularly clueless about all of
Apr 12, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction-read, fiction
I'd like to give this book 2.5 stars. It wasn't awful, I just had a really hard time relating to the main character or finding much redeeming value in the plot. High-maintenance women seeks wealthy husband to support her shopping addiction. I know the book was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek making fun of women who lead this kind of lifestyle, but mainly I felt sorry for her because she never learns that men worth marrying care about more than what you look like. She spends thousands of dollars o ...more
Mar 09, 2014 rated it liked it
"A Certain Age" is an updating of "The House of Mirth," but whereas THoM is largely about Victorian women's lack of choices (compounded by Lily Bart's naivete and poor judgement), this book is only about the protagonist's appallingly poor judgement. As a result, there is literally nothing sympathetic about the protagonist, who seems completely unable to take care of herself and somewhat intent on destroying her life. As a reader, I lost patience with her much as her fictional friends seemed to. ...more
Dec 03, 2010 rated it did not like it
more than just "didn't like it," i hated it. i really wish i could award this book zero stars. to paraphrase another view from, i think, elle magazine (don't scorn the source, they actually run intelligent and literate reviews, and their "elle's lettres" prizes are usually on-the-mark.)... anyway, back to the quote, "the author should look up the definition of "satire," read it, and die of shame." seriously, this book is that bad. it was deeply discounted on a remainder table, plus i received an ...more
Apr 09, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-in-2011
A Certain Age was spectacularly bad. It reads like a boring Sex And The City episode, showing a tremendously unrealistic (and worse: uninteresting) view of life in New York as a single 32-year-old woman.

The main character is a deplorable idiot who wants nothing more than to marry a wealthy man. Compared to this woman, Paris Hilton is soulful and interesting.

Regardless, I could get into such a shallow and trashy book if it was at least fun to read -- unfortunately this was just tedious and frustr
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Tama Janowitz is an American novelist and a short story writer. The 2005 September/October issue of Pages magazine listed her as one of the four "brat pack" authors, along with Bret Easton Ellis, Mark Lindquist and Jay McInerney.

Born in San Francisco, California to a psychiatrist father and literature professor mother who divorced when she was ten, Janowitz moved to the East Coast of the United St

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