The Innocents by Francesca Segal
Winner of the 2012 Costa First Novel award
I was attracted to this book because it won an award, yes I can be that shallow. Sometimes we just need a large corporation to say this is a good book…buy it! Although, I wish I hadn’t bought this! I paid the full 7.99 for this book on Kindle because I had the trust in Costa to suggest, well no, to give awards to decent books.
It sounds like I hate this book, I don’t. I read it continuously so it cannot be that bad. My problem with this book is that it I can only liken it to reading a few Episodes of Eastenders, or any soap in that there was lots of half-arsed drama, no beginning or end. This book is just strange, why would we want to be a fly on the wall to a rather placid family drama that never climaxes. There was plenty of gossiping and work dramas and endless Jewish references but can somebody please tell me why this book was written? I think it needs a prequel, or a sequel. What’s more, the title and the front cover have nothing to do with the story….a girl running through a garden…did I miss that bit in the book? The Innocents, huh? Don’t get me wrong I have studied English Literature and I would like to think I am perfectly capable of deciphering meanings within literature…..but this book I do not get.
Perhaps I should read The Age of Innocence to appreciate Segal’s new novel?
“In this impressive first novel, Francesca Segal transports The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning tale of scandal among the upper classes in 1870s New York, to the Jewish community of modern-day north-west London.” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/may/06/innocents-francesca-segal-review)
This is a good book (said loosely), but I just think she should;
1. change the name
2. change the front cover to relate to the story…not be some cryptic reference to an inner self trying to run away type thing
3. Use less descriptive words. Francesca has the typical new writer syndrome where she feels she needs to write an adverb for every second word in the book…..this style of writing doesn’t demonstrate talent except for the ability to use a thesaurus.
Bah, what a rant!!
I don’t think I would suggest this book, and I wish I had ordered a sample before buying the full version.
If you want to read more about the Innocents, and probably some reviews that liked the book (we are all different);
- Francesca Segal: Being a writer is bloody hard work – I know, I grew up with one (metro.co.uk)
- Jewish love story ‘The Innocents’ up for Costa Book Award (thejc.com)
- Downton makers developing TV version of Segal’s The Innocents (thejc.com)
- A look at the Jews of London, Wharton all (timesofisrael.com)
- Francesca Segal: the Costa Prize-winnning novelist following in her father’s footsteps (thejc.com)