Book Review: A Certain Age
Synopsis: 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: 3 stars.
I actually read this book back in June when the hardcover first came out as Beatriz Williams is one of my “must-read” authors. I enjoy her style of historical fiction– well-researched and developed characters, great story, and a peppering in of real-life historic events and people.
But this one fell a little flat for me.
Maybe it was the time period ( the 1920s) which isn’t one I’m particularly interested in or the premise of a married woman with a younger man, even though she’s married. There were story lines and details that felt underdeveloped and left hanging without explanation, though I wonder if this is just setting things up for future Williams’ books, as she is known for placing characters from other titles into each book, creating a well-developed universe of people. I think that might be my favorite thing about her as a writer– she leaves you wanting more and wondering about a character well after a book is finished, and then writes another title exclusively about that person.
The story line is also Williams’ loose interpretation on a well-known opera, which she explains fully in the author’s note at the back of the book. Knowing very little about opera this didn’t mean much for me, though I appreciate the retelling and interpretation on a creative level.
I did not receive a copy of this book in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own.