The Last Enchantments: Book summary and reviews of The Last Enchantments by Charles Finch

The Last Enchantments

by Charles Finch

The Last Enchantments
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2014
    336 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

After graduating from Yale, William Baker, scion of an old line patrician family, goes to work in presidential politics. But when the campaign into which he's poured his heart ends in disappointment, he decides to leave New York and his devoted girlfriend behind for a year of study at Oxford.

Will expects nothing more than a year off before resuming the comfortable life he's always known, but he's soon caught up in a whirlwind of unexpected friendships and romantic entanglements that threaten his safe plans. As he explores the heady social world of Oxford, he becomes fast friends with Tom, his snobbish but affable flat mate; Anil, an Indian economist with a deep love for gangster rap; Anneliese, a German historian obsessed with photography; and Timmo, whose chief ambition is to become a reality television star. What he's least prepared for is Sophie, a witty, beautiful and enigmatic woman who makes him question everything he knows about himself.

For readers who made a classic of Richard Yates's A Good School, Charles Finch's The Last Enchantments is a sweeping novel about love and loss that redefines what it means to grow up as an American in the twenty-first century.

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Media Reviews

"Starred Review. A vividly evocative love letter to his alma mater, Finch's first contemporary novel (following his acclaimed historical Victorian mysteries starring MP Charles Lenox) often reads less like fiction than as memoir, and will be enjoyed by readers of both." - Library Journal

"Despite his political savvy, Will proves emotionally immature, falling in and out of love quickly and then stewing in self-pity. His loves—Alison, Jess, and Sophie—come across as charming young women who deserve better." - Publishers Weekly

"A portrait of university life that's contemplative and nostalgic." - Kirkus

"Compelling ... William Baker's voice, vividly established in the opening line, is the most striking of this novel's many virtues." - Ron Rash, New York Times bestselling author of Serena

"Irresistible ...The novel bursts with intelligence and wit as Charles Finch brilliantly examines our most secret longings and desires... The Last Enchantments casts an enduring spell." - Amber Dermont, author of The Starboard Sea>

"A witty, wonderful book about that tender age between college and true adulthood. Charles Finch's sensitive, lyrical and heartfelt writing charms to the very last page." - Cristina Alger, author of The Darlings 

"Intense, fast-paced, psychologically intriguing, and wonderfully written, Will finds not only Sophie, the complicated, captivating woman who takes his heart and an unsettling group of friends, but over the course of a disturbing and entertaining year, he finds himself in surprising ways." - Susan Richards Shreve, author of You Are the Love of my Life

The information about The Last Enchantments shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Reader Reviews

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Sherilyn R. (Bountiful, UT)

Truly Enchanting Novel
An enchanting book that captures the exquisite period between college and true adulthood. The time when every college student dreams of being free, of being able to explore who they really are and what they really want, of being independent without the encumbrances of being adult.

Charles Finch sets the pace as we journey along with young William Baker as he experiences a year at Oxford. With a slow seductive rhythm we come to understand William and the landscape that was and is Oxford.

This is a sensitive, intense, thoroughly charming book full of one young man's longing and desire that is metaphor for us all. I so wanted to visit Oxford again after reading this book.

Kay D. (Strongsville, OH)

The Last Enchantments - Generated Mixed Feelings
I found The Last Enchantments to be an interesting book, both liking and disliking elements. Overall, I would rate it 4 out of 5. The book did keep me interested enough in the characters to keep reading until the end, even when I found them shallow at times. I believe the shallowness was more the characters' behaviors, not the writing or the character development. Personally, I had a hard time identifying with the lack of responsibility of most of the characters. I found the consistent bending of the truth a bit unsettling.

During the year that the book covers, it focuses on a group of grad students at Oxford. The diversity of the group was well done and gave some perspectives from several backgrounds. The main character was from America and since the narrative was from his perspective it was often colored by that. In addition, the main character had a leaning towards political work, and therefore was colored by his political beliefs. I felt these sometimes got in the way of the story and became more of a political statement than necessary.

Overall, an interesting read and I generally liked the writing.

Kristen H. (Hagerstown, MD)

Education in life
The author captured the essence of going to college and experiencing life. The title summed it up wonderfully. The experiences that Will went through in England, after already starting a life with Alison. Also, the fact that he had a job working in politics and then to go across the ocean to study abroad. I enjoyed the author's style of writing. This book is a very enjoyable read. I would definitely recommend this book to a book club.

Norma R. (Secaucus, NJ)

Oxford Dreams
Last Enchantments tells the of the journey of a group of friends from college to adulthood. Will Baker leaves the security of a job and a girlfriend in New York to study in Oxford for one year. The beauty of Oxford is stunning but life is not perfect. The group of friends are all struggling to find a place in the adult world. Bill falls in love with Sophie but both are in another relationship. Bill is yearning for an ideal life in Oxford - but it does not exist. I enjoyed this book because it told the universal story of growing up. Would recommend it for a book club.

Carolyn (Summerville, SC)

The Last Enchantments
This is a skillfully written novel that I liked, but didn't love. The main character, Will, is a likable fellow, a Yale graduate who spent a year working on a presidential campaign for a losing candidate. After the election, he applied for acceptance at Oxford University (unbeknownst to his longtime girlfriend), and when he was accepted he took off for England. This book is an accounting of that year. Will seemed rather immature to me, more like an undergrad, and I confess I needed a dictionary for a lengthy list of words he used ("involucre", "armature", et al). The descriptions of Oxford life were interesting, and I expect that a book club could have a lively discussion about what motivated some of these characters. For me, not a failure, but not a triumph, either.

Patty S. (Towson, MD)

Remembering My Twenties
One of the ways I know I like a book is by the way I feel when I finish it. I left Will Baker and his Oxford friends an hour ago and, still, I am thinking of my own feelings about my relationships at the age of 27 or 28. Do we all go through it - the questions, the longing, the imagining life veering in a different direction?

At first I didn't connect with Finch's writing style. It felt a bit pompous but as I kept with it, I began to see that it was part of Will's character. As more of his personality was revealed, I became more attached and the end came too soon.

Anyone who struggles with the big life decisions of what to be and who will be with them on the journey will enjoy this book.

...15 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Charles Finch Author Biography

Charles Finch is the author of the Charles Lenox mystery novels. His first standalone novel, The Last Enchantments, about a group of students at Oxford University, was published in January of 2014. Charles Finch was born in 1980 in New York City. He graduated from Phillips Academy and Yale University where he majored in English and History. He also holds a master's degree in Renaissance English Literature from Merton College, Oxford. He is the grandson of American artist and writer Anne Truitt. He lives in Oxford, England.

Charles Lenox series order (as of 2015)

  1. A Beautiful Blue Death (2007)
  2. The September Society (2008)
  3. The Fleet Street Murders (2009)
  4. A Stranger in Mayfair (2010)
  5. A Burial at Sea (2011)
  6. A Death in the Small Hours (2012)
  7. An ...

Full Biography
Link to Charles Finch's Website

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