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The Last Enchantments

3.18  ·  Rating Details ·  1,349 Ratings  ·  330 Reviews
The Last Enchantmentsis a powerfully moving and lyrically written novel. Ayoung American embarks on a year at Oxford and has an impassioned affair that will change his life forever

After graduating from Yale, William Baker, scion of an old line patrician family, goes to work in presidential politics. But when the campaign into which he's poured his heart ends in disappointm
Hardcover, 323 pages
Published January 28th 2014 by St. Martin's Press
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Charles Finch
Nov 01, 2013 Charles Finch rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
I wrote this, so...totally unbiased.
Rebecca Foster
I was always going to be picky about this book, because the premise – a young American’s life-changing year abroad in England – hits so close to home. In 2003, as a fresh-faced nineteen-year-old, I first flew to England for a study abroad program at the University of Reading. During that year several of us also took private theology tutorials at a don’s home in suburban Oxford, so we were back and forth on the train between Reading and Oxford on a weekly basis, and I grew nearly as fond of Oxfor ...more
Susan Johnson
Mar 18, 2014 Susan Johnson rated it did not like it
I can not tell you how disappointed in this book I was. I just didn't see why it was written. It didn't have a great story, most of the characters were unlikable, and there was nothing to learn from the story. I assume it's fairly autobiographical but I don't know. The story is of a youngish (mid 20's) American who goes to Oxford for post graduation work. He spent time on working for the John Kerry presidential campaign and is at loose ends so he goes to England.

There he meets a gang of pretty
Feb 08, 2016 Cherie rated it liked it
Shelves: read-audio
I decided that I wanted to read this book because I liked the Charles Lennox mysteries that this author writes and I was curious about this book. I requested an audio version of the book from my Library.

I started listening to the audio, narrated by Luke Daniels. After listening to the first two CDs, I was not sure I was all that interested in the story. It had nothing to do with the audio quality or narration, I just wasn't sure that I was all that interested in the story. I had recently read a
Dec 14, 2015 Malia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-2014
I didn't know what I would make this book, as I am quite fond of Charles Finch's Lenox series, a character I have, as I rarely do, adopted into my fictional family circle along the lines of 'good old uncle Charlie'. The LAST ENCHANTMENTS is unquestionable different, which is not to say it is less enjoyable, if anything I must say I read it faster than any in the Lenox series.
The book centers around the life, specifically one year in the life of William Baker, a graduate student from NY spending
Jul 10, 2016 Jaksen rated it liked it

I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. Thank you Goodreads, and thank you, publisher.

You think this is a fantasy book? Or with elements of magical realism? Well, titles can fool you and this one does. It’s set in fairly contemporary times – 2005 – at Oxford in England, mostly, and concerns a young Amerian male (25 years old) who’s there for a year to get a graduate degree. He interacts with other students, some English, others foreigners, and makes friends, lives a fairly staid and ordinary l
Feb 27, 2014 Kay rated it liked it
Parts of this novel were, indeed, enchanting. However, the sophomoric (literally) conduct of most of the main characters was wearying after a while. The American narrator's obsession with an obviously manipulative woman--and his own execrable treatment of other young women--made him an unsympathetic protagonist. Unfair of me, I know, since such behavior is not atypical of privileged students in his age group. I liked other novels by this author, and the quality of the prose would ordinarily get ...more
Nicole Jacob
Dec 30, 2014 Nicole Jacob rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2014
I felt really disconnected with all of these characters. From the very beginning when Will leaves his girlfriend to go across the country for school and he didn't really show a lot of emotion. I felt like I was an outsider looking at a group of college students who were all in on something, but I wasn't allowed to know about it. They seemed to have their own unique group.
I wasn't super impressed with the plot - I was left wondering what the point of it all was.
Mar 06, 2014 Alison rated it it was amazing
I found this book a rare combination of unique, intelligent, and completely readable/enjoyable. There are two ways I measure the value of a book I'm reading. (1) How much I want to keep reading while I have the book in my hand. (2) How much I think about the book when I'm not physically reading it. THE LAST ENCHANTMENTS passed both measures with high marks. It is set in 2005, when 25-year-old Will (a defeated staffer on the Kerry campaign and Yale Alum with a patrician ancestry) leaves his life ...more
Kasa Cotugno
I recently read a comment by a reviewer I respect that men have given up reading literary fiction, that such practice went out of fashion some time in the 1980's due to their being afraid of admitting they had interior lives. Which I have to question since men are responsible for at least half of the great fiction coming around these days. if the observation were true, would such authors as Wally Lamb, Colm McCann, Jonathan Frazen and Khalid Housseini be selling out seats at their readings? No, ...more
Thank you, Edelweiss, for providing this book from St. Martin's Press for review!

EDIT 11/30: Thank you, St. Martin's Press, for providing a hard copy for a First Reads review!

3/7: Featured Review on Edelweiss

William Baker decides to pack his bags and head to Oxford to study literature for a year. His career in political campaigns has slowed and he feels like he's stuck in a rut. Leaving behind NYC, job opportunities, a long-time girlfriend, Will looks forward to his adventure in England and putt
Mrs. Gregory
Jun 23, 2015 Mrs. Gregory rated it it was amazing
Author Charles Finch took me back 20-some years to a period of time that’s simultaneously joyful and volatile: college. His protagonist, Will Baker, through a first-person narrative, let me re-experience that time of hills and valleys, of doubt and resolve. 25-year-old Will is an American in a master’s program at Oxford. He approaches both English literature and love the same way: tentatively and then with full immersion. He emerges somewhat changed by his experiences, but it’s his journey throu ...more
Page Terror
Feb 18, 2014 Page Terror rated it really liked it
The Last Enchantments is a novel about a generation, our generation, the generation that was spawned by and left to deal with the chaos that the baby boomers continue to leave in their wake. Charles Finch packs as much material as possible into 323 pages, discussing politics, national identity, the tragedy of academia, love, sex, the molds of childhood, and it is all wrapped into the great journey, the last escape of a young man, who flees his life in order to experience youth once more before i ...more
Nov 05, 2013 Anne rated it liked it
Shelves: x-read-in-2013
Will Baker leaves NYC and his fiance to spend a year at Oxford for grad school. What ensues is a telling of Will's personal life. He makes friends, meets women, goes to parties and bars and from all indications does very little studying. This is the ultimate coming of age story and Will experiences all the typical flings, traumas, and hangovers.

I didn't dislike the book, thought it was extremely well written, and in fact have gathered some of Finch's other titles to read next. The Last Enchantm
Jan 17, 2014 Michele rated it really liked it
I have to admit that I was enchanted by the book. It was sweet and tender in a way that isn't typical of a male character lead and reminiscence in that definitely male perspective. Even the casual relationships described were authentic to a fault. The confusion of the adultolescent period when one begins to commit to life choices about career, relationships, living situations, and other things of a long term nature is carefully and lovingly expressed in all its inherent confusion, strong emotion ...more
Kristena West
Apr 08, 2014 Kristena West rated it really liked it
I was captivated by the story-line. It was so youth oriented, I thought I might find the whole thing narcissistic and self-congratulatory. And it was. I find it hard to believe that I might have been that callous to others in my twenties, but I probably was. Some.

However, I liked the main character and found his emergence into Oxford life, stretching academic wings, deepening friendships and growing up despite the parties, engaging and found myself on the couch and had to finish the book.

His d
Oct 01, 2014 Corene rated it really liked it
To quote one of the more likable characters from the book, I can see why "haters gonna hate," on this sometimes dreary novel where not much happens. However, it really got under my skin and had a haunting way of evoking the time and place----Oxford in 2005 and 2006. The main character is not sympathetic, and isn't meant to be. The romantic relationships don't compel the reader to care about their outcome. But as the story concludes with the American narrator wishing he could have that isolated p ...more
Julie Ehlers
Feb 10, 2015 Julie Ehlers rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
I've never read any of Charles Finch's mysteries and I decided I wanted to read this standalone novel because I liked the cover, so I really had no idea what to expect. But I liked it. The writing reminded me a little of early Michael Chabon or Donna Tartt, except funnier (well, maybe not funnier than Chabon; he's pretty funny. But definitely funnier than Donna Tartt). It also brought to mind Caleb Crain's Necessary Errors; they both have the same day-to-day feel, the sense that you're getting t ...more
May 06, 2014 Samuel rated it really liked it
Charles Finch’s The Last Enchantments is a book well worth the attention of any person recently graduated from college up to 40 years old, as it encompasses the range of thoughts, emotions, anxieties, and amours of the new-young adult 20-30 category, and the complex dynamic that living in our fast-paced society adds to those dillemmas. Nothing is necessarily new: there’s both camaraderie and rivalry amongst friends, who move in the same social circles and drink at the same bars and dance at the ...more
Sep 16, 2016 Jessica rated it it was amazing
There’s always a bit of anxiety when a favorite author departs from their established genre and dabbles in a new one. When I heard about Charles Finch’s THE LAST ENCHANTMENTS, I didn’t have those feelings because I knew he would take care of me. That being said, this is the hardest review I’ve had to write as a blogger and it’s not because I’m a fan of his, but rather I don’t know what to say other than to use shouty capitals: GO BUY THIS BOOK AND READ IT NOOOOW!

After John Kerry loses the 2004
Nov 15, 2013 Michael rated it really liked it
My review ran in the 11/15/13 issue of Library Journal:

Young man studies abroad, falls in love with his new surroundings, and meets a beautiful woman: that sounds like the gist of every campus story ever told, but Finch's charming effort distinguishes itself with its personal touch. After graduating from Yale University and working on the doomed John Kerry presidential campaign in 2004, Will Baker leaves his girlfriend and political aspirations behind to study at Oxford. Quickly falling in with
Jan 25, 2014 Anna rated it liked it
This book inspired some musings about life. Check them out here:

There are things about this book that I will never understand - mainly why the characters are hell-bound to destroy and remake their relationships, following the same pattern, never really becoming at peace with what they have.

Being in my early 20s and studying in a university originally created in the Oxford tradition, this should have been the book for me. In fact, Finch's ability to transp
Barclay Dunn
May 18, 2016 Barclay Dunn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
His first magnum opus

So many things to love about this novel. The self contained story set in the single year; the well fleshed out characters; the beautiful, expressive use of language throughout. I have read many of the author's mysteries and greatly enjoy them, but this was different, bigger and deeper and filled with love for the young people in the story. It felt very autobiographical. I found it incredibly resonant with my own difficulty leaving college behind once I graduated and left.

Oct 20, 2013 Valerie rated it liked it
Shelves: owned
A huge departure from Finch's Victorian murder series featuring Charles Lenox. This novel is about a lost 25 year old American boy who goes back to university to find himself. An assorted cast of interesting friends and lovers are found at Oxford, lots of indecision as to which direction he will take his life or lovers. I found Will more than willing to let his life float by on chance rather than taking charge of it. Perhaps it's the times? Perhaps I'm too old for reading college angst?
Feb 16, 2014 Amy rated it liked it
"There are times in life when the weather and the landscape seem suddenly as if they're for you alone..."

"The quiet disloyalty of objects."

"... everything felt well ordered there, with the particular grace that money, whether we wish it did or not, will give a house, a person, a day."

"... accumulating the two things, love and snow, that make the world look fresh again."

"When you're finally a grown-up, one of the things you find out is that there are no grown-ups."
Feb 13, 2014 Kelly rated it liked it
Shelves: england, novel
I enjoyed the writing, the story maybe not as much. The book just sort of ended abruptly.
Nov 20, 2014 Irene rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book very much! I do confess that I am an Anglophile and ever since I saw the series "Brideshead Revisited" on TV in 1981,I have dreamed of studying at Oxford.(Watching "Morse" and "Lewis" mysteries, set in Oxford, on PBS has kept this desire alive!)
Charles Finch has a lovely writing style - beautifully captures Will's year at Oxford.
Mieko F
Feb 27, 2014 Mieko F rated it it was amazing
Loved it - loved the language and how the characters were written. Reminded me of the film, "L'auberge Espagnole," and made me nostalgic for college (though by this time, my memories are probably pretty idealized). Oxford was a character onto itself and I think I mourned the setting more than anything else when I finished the book.
Lewis Weinstein
started to read ... not interesting
Nov 01, 2014 Becky added it
a few thoughts: 1) this felt like reading someone's really oversharing blog in the early days of blogs. lots of kinda braggy descriptions of drinking and hookups and claims of being super smart. I get that this is a character narrating, but still couldn't shake the feeling that I was reading a LiveJournal.

2) some books are a little too English Major-y for my tastes. I think saying that "December had given up three weeks of its time" as a way of noting the date is a little too much over the line
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads' database with this name. See this thread for more information.

My name is Charles Finch - welcome! I'm the author of the Charles Lenox series of historical mysteries, as well as a recent novel about expatriate life in Oxford, THE LAST ENCHANTMENTS. I also write book reviews for the New York Times, USA Today, and the Chicago Tribune an
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“When you're finally a grown-up, one of the things you find is that there are no grown-ups.” 17 likes
“The two things, love and snow, that make the world look fresh again” 10 likes
More quotes…