As soon as I heard about A Certain Age, the latest novel from Beatriz Williams I couldn’t wait to read it. Set during the Jazz Age in 1920’s New York it promised romance, revelations and long kept secrets and it certainly didn’t disappoint.
‘I don’t know think I know the answer. Something is lost. Something has gone missing inside that you-and-me, and I suspect it’s me’
The story begins in early 1922 when we are introduced to Theresa Marshall, a bold and beautiful socialite with an unconventional marital situation. Theresa is a wife and a mother but has found herself in love with a younger man – war hero Octavian Rofrano who is young enough to be her son. Despite her new love, Theresa does not consider divorcing her husband Sylvester. She is well aware of the impact on her wealth and social status and despite Sylvester’s own infidelity he provides her with security. But Theresa’s relationships with her husband and her lover prove only the beginning of this story filled with love, betrayal and revelations. Theresa’s brother Jay ‘Ox’ Ochsner chooses young Miss Sophie Fortesque, the youngest daughter of a wealthy inventor, to be his wife. However, this was not to be a straightforward proposal as Octavian is enlisted not only to present the family’s diamond ring but to find out more about Sophie’s family. What he does discover are long held secrets and surprising revelations…
‘…she sees, for a brief instant, the view from a turret window toward the sea, except that its summer instead of winter…she cannot tear her gaze away.’
From the very start I was hooked by this story which begins with a gossip column’s account of an intriguing trial. From here it alternates between the perspectives of Theresa and Sophie in turn as the surprising events unfold. One of the themes of the book is attitudes towards gender roles in the 1920’s. These attitudes are well presented through Theresa and Sophie. Theresa is well versed in how to maintain her social standing and is confident and assured with just a little insecurity beneath the surface. In contrast, Sophie is young and still trying to discover who she wants to become, whether she should take a different route to the one her father desires for her. I enjoyed the development of these characters and their relationships throughout but what I loved the most was the past secrets that gradually become clear. Secrets about a family’s past that are not only shocking but life changing. Events with the potential to divide loyalties and to make people question everything they had ever known.
“I know there’s a passionate girl inside, just waiting to come out, and I intend to see that she breaks free,”
I loved A Certain Age and found it to be a gripping story of love and betrayal with the fantastic Roaring twenties as its backdrop. In it, Williams has perfectly captured life and love in the Jazz Age with a brilliant cast of characters I was sad to leave behind.
A Certain Age is to be published in the UK on 14th July 2016 by Harper Collins. Many thanks to Harper Collins for providing a copy for review.