Monday, April 17, 2017

Review: A Certain Age

A Certain Age
by Beatriz Williams

Why did you choose this book? 1920s lifestyle and FREE!  
When did you read this book? April 2017
Who should read this book? Readers of mystery, romance, and the 1920s
Source: B&N Readouts & library ebook
My Rating: ✰✰✰✰½   4½ Stars

Here is a synopsis of A Certain Age from Goodreads

The bestselling author of A Hundred Summers, brings the Roaring Twenties brilliantly to life in this enchanting and compulsively readable tale of intrigue, romance, and scandal in New York Society, brimming with lush atmosphere, striking characters, and irresistible charm.

As the freedom of the Jazz Age transforms New York City, the iridescent Mrs. Theresa Marshall of Fifth Avenue and Southampton, Long Island, has done the unthinkable: she’s fallen in love with her young paramour, Captain Octavian Rofrano, a handsome aviator and hero of the Great War. An intense and deeply honorable man, Octavian is devoted to the beautiful socialite of a certain age and wants to marry her. While times are changing and she does adore the Boy, divorce for a woman of Theresa’s wealth and social standing is out of the question, and there is no need; she has an understanding with Sylvo, her generous and well-respected philanderer husband.

But their relationship subtly shifts when her bachelor brother, Ox, decides to tie the knot with the sweet younger daughter of a newly wealthy inventor. Engaging a longstanding family tradition, Theresa enlists the Boy to act as her brother’s cavalier, presenting the family’s diamond rose ring to Ox’s intended, Miss Sophie Fortescue—and to check into the background of the little-known Fortescue family. When Octavian meets Sophie, he falls under the spell of the pretty ingénue, even as he uncovers a shocking family secret. As the love triangle of Theresa, Octavian, and Sophie progresses, it transforms into a saga of divided loyalties, dangerous revelations, and surprising twists that will lead to a shocking transgression . . . and eventually force Theresa to make a bittersweet choice.

Full of the glamour, wit and delicious twists that are the hallmarks of Beatriz Williams’ fiction and alternating between Sophie’s spirited voice and Theresa’s vibrant timbre, A Certain Age is a beguiling reinterpretation of Richard Strauss’s comic opera Der Rosenkavalier, set against the sweeping decadence of Gatsby’s New York.

My Review

Before I start this review, I want to call your attention to the cover. Isn’t that beautiful?! I am mesmerized by it! The more I stare at it, the more I love it! That said, however, I really had not planned to pick this one up. You see, a few years ago I’d read A Hundred Summers by the same author, and while it was an ‘ok’ read for me, it didn’t leave me wanting more. But A Certain Age is this month’s selection for the B&N Readouts program and everyone’s been talking about this book, so I decided to give it a try. My plan was to read a few chapters and if it didn’t hook me, I’d cast it aside for something more intriguing. Did it hook me? Well, I didn’t learn about B&N Readouts until the sixth of the month, but by the time I reached chapter 10 I realized that this one-chapter-a-day thing wasn’t going to work for me and clicked to Overdrive to see if the book was available through my local library. Lucky for me, it was!

What are some of the things I loved about this book? Well, the 1920s flavor for one. This novel definitely had a ‘Great Gatsby’ feel to it, with the glamour of the Roaring Twenties, prohibition, and the excesses of the upper crust! I also liked the characters. Other than the person who ultimately turned out to be a villain, I don’t think there was a character in this book that I didn’t like, at least among the main characters. I particularly liked Sophie Fortescue and her cavalier, recently returned war hero Octavian Rofrano, who is in the midst of a passionate affair with Mrs. Theresa Marshall, a wealthy socialite. A character I would like to know more about is Theresa’s brother, Ox, a formerly confirmed bachelor who is engaged to marry Sophie.

I also liked the story. As I mentioned, I couldn’t wait to finish the book! There is romance and romantic triangles. There is a murder mystery. There are a lot of twist and I was never quite sure how this would end up! Some things really surprised me! I really enjoyed the quotes at the beginning of each chapter, from a witty but somewhat cynical journalist of the era named Helen Rowland. Here’s one example:

“Every man wants a woman to appeal to his better side, his nobler instincts, and his higher nature — and another woman to help him forget them.”

I liked the ending — everything was wrapped up well enough that I can see happy endings for some of the characters and predict what happens next. There were a few loose ends that left me hanging as far as what happens to a few characters, though. While normally this would bother me enough to lower my rating of a book, in this case it does not. The book includes a reader’s guide at the end and the last question mentions that the author has another book to be released this coming June, Cocoa Beach, in which at least one of these characters appears.

One thing that left me confused was the switch from the B&N Readouts version of the book to the Overdrive version. The latter has additions not contained in the first version; interspersed among the chapters are excerpts from a newspaper gossip column written about a court trial. These gave information about the story that I would not have learned about until much later in the book if I’d stuck to the B&N Readouts version. I’m not sure if that was a plus or a minus. They kind of were spoilers that would have clued me in to some things I didn’t know what I started reading the book. On the other hand, I think I missed some details that seemed meaningless fill when I was reading the B&N Readouts version, but turned out to be important to the story.

Though I wasn’t a fan of Beatriz Williams previously, I am now. I will definitely be checking out Cocoa Beach!
post signature

1 comment:

  1. I have Cocoa Beach on hold at my library already! I really have liked most of Williams' books that I have read.