Book Review: The Innocents

I’ve never read The Age of Innocence, so I can’t really make any comparisons of Francesca Segal’s updated version, The Innocents, to the original.  However, I can tell you that I enjoyed the modern take on the classic.  This version moves the setting from New York to Northwest London and instead of focusing on the hoity toity Manhattan elite, this one examines the area’s tightly woven Jewish community.

Adam has been dating Rachel for 13 years and they are finally ready to tie the knot.  Though he is sure he is moving along the path he always wanted, he begins to wonder if that’s only because it is all he has ever known.  His doubts take root upon the arrival of Rachel’s scandal-ridden cousin from America, Ellie.  Ellie is damaged and Adam feels compelled to take care of her.  He is torn between abandoning the comfort of his predetermined life and the more exciting potential with Ellie.

Though secular, the Jewish culture is woven into every aspect of the central characters’ lives.  They may not be religious, but all their friends are Jewish, Yiddush is slipped into everyday conversation, and most social events are tied to some sort of Jewish tradition.  (Seems pretty spot on from my limited experience.)  When in print, it makes them seem very Jewish and almost unrelatable, but once you realize there is little actual religion involved, it’s just a new type of bubble that so many of us are fixed in.

Keep in mind it’s not just one character who sheds their innocence by the end of this novel.  It’s slightly sad to see it disappear, but that’s what growing up is all about.

3.5 out of 5 stars.