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.
What Did I Think About the Story?
Have you ever read the synopsis of a story, opened the pages, and been completely surprised about what you found inside? Whether for good or bad, what you end up reading is different from what you expected? Well this is exactly what happened to me upon reading A Certain Age. I expected some romance, maybe some conflict and backstabbing...sort of a love square between the two women and the two men (although not between Theresa and her brother, Ox). While these things are included in the overall story, page one let's us know that a murder has taken place and all of our various players are somehow connected - whether directly or not - with said murder. Now my interest was really piqued!
After that introduction it's probably not a surprise for me to say that my favorite aspect of the story was the murder mystery. The way it's initially presented as little gossip columns in the newspaper, sprinkled throughout the larger story, was perfect. Towards the end the narrative begins to coincide with the murder trial and it becomes more of a central theme and I, for one, was completely surprised by what actually happened and the way everything came together at the end. This all being said, I will add that the mystery does take a back seat to the relationship trials of the characters for much of the story and really has more of a cozy mystery presentation than a taut and tense, action-packed sort of feel, but I'm so happy the author decided to add this excitement to what might have otherwise become a little too romance heavy for my general tastes.
Another aspect of the story that I very much enjoyed was just how well the author ensconces the reader in Jazz Age New York. Whether in the grander high society homes and clubs or back alley speakeasies, it's easy to see and hear and feel everything our characters are experiencing and it really drives home the changes to society, industry, and the world at large during this time. This shifting and opposing world is also reflected in the characters and the larger themes at play - youth vs. age, women as wives and mothers only vs. women in the working world, excitement and adventure vs. tradition and normality - and I can't think of a better background for all of this conflict to take place against.
All of the characters are also deliciously flawed. While I wasn't a huge fan of Theresa - she's incredibly selfish and manipulative, at least in the beginning - I did enjoy each of the characters for their own specific quirks (and there are a lot of them!). Sophie and Octavian are a little more likeable, especially Sophie, and I did enjoy watching their transformations as the story progressed. While I can't say I would enjoy knowing any of them in real life, they definitely kept the narrative intriguing.
A Certain Age is full of quirky, somewhat likeable characters and enough intrigue and mystery to keep you turning the pages. While I will say that I think those interested in the historical fiction and romance aspects of the story will find more to appreciate then staunch murder mystery readers, I think there is enough to draw the interest of general lovers of reading good stories as well. I have a few more of Beatriz Williams's books on my shelves and I'm now very excited to read them!
What Did I Think About the Cover?
It's very pretty, especially in person as the cover has a pearly aspect to it. The style, dress, etc. feels very authentic to the story and from the story within it's easy to see that this young lady is Sophie (which I always appreciate...I hate when characters are described one way and presented on the cover differently). This cover would definitely draw my eye in a bookstore!
My Rating: 4.5/5.0
Thank you to TLC Book Tours and HarperCollins for providing me with a free copy of A Certain Age in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Please continue below for more information about the book, the author, and the blog tour.
About the Author
A graduate of Stanford University with an MBA from Columbia, Beatriz Williams spent several years in New York and London hiding her early attempts at fiction, first on company laptops as a
Find out more about Beatriz at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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A Certain Age Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, January 16th: Show This Book Some Love
Tuesday, January 17th: Living Outside the Stacks
Wednesday, January 18th: Savvy Verse & Wit
Friday, January 20th: Black ‘n Gold Girl’s Book Spot
Monday, January 23rd: I Wish I Lived in a Library
Tuesday, January 24th: Just Commonly
Thursday, January 26th: Back Porchervations
Friday, January 27th: Stephany Writes
Monday, January 30th: Books and Bindings
Wednesday, February 1st: Chick With Books
Wednesday, February 1st: Reading to Distraction
Thursday, February 2nd: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Friday, February 3rd: Book by Book
Monday, February 6th: The Paperback Pilgrim
Tuesday, February 7th: Art Books Coffee
Wednesday, February 8th: Broken Teepee
Thursday, February 9th: A Splendidly Messy Life
Friday, February 10th: A Soccer Mom’s Book Blog
Friday, February 10th: A Literary Vacation