Author: Beatriz Williams
Published: June 2016, William Morrow
Format: ARC Paperback, 336 pages
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 thoughts: It's so big secret that I am a huge Beatriz Williams' fan! I have devoured her previous works and of course did the same with this latest one. And with it being set in the Jazz Age in New York City...I was in heaven! I just loved the setting and the characters...oh my - a pure reading delight!
Does anyone create such delicious characters and scandal as Beatriz Williams? I'm not quite sure, but I know when I pick up one of her books, I am going to be entertained and delighted with scandal, intrigue and the most wonderful, memorable characters that I have encountered in a long time. And that's exactly what we get in A Certain Age...and there are some familiar faces if you've read her previous books - not that that's a requirement, just a bonus! Oh, and if you've read the recent anthology that Beatriz Williams contributed a story to, Fall of Poppies, you will recognize young Octavian Rofrano...again, not a requirement, but bonus if you've read it.
I loved both Sophie and Theresa's characters...they are such richly developed characters, yet not without their flaws. Both just come alive on the pages and you can't help but sympathize with each at some point throughout the book. I found myself going back and forth between who I was more drawn to because when I liked one, I found I tended to dislike the other. The character development of these two is strong and I so wish that this book didn't come to an end because I didn't want to part with these characters.
The events of this book are actually based on an opera and while I'm not familiar with the opera at all, I found it did not detract from my enjoyment at all. The romance was set to the 1920's and then there's the added dimension of the murder, dubbed the "trial of the century." I loved the news articles that appeared throughout the book giving updates on said trial - it helped moved things along. And perhaps another layer that had nothing to do with the storyline itself, but added a nice charm and extra touch, were the little snippets of advice from Helen Rowland...I loved these! They had just the right amount of wit to match the characters and story but didn't detract from the story line itself.