Summary and book reviews of A Certain Age by Beatriz Williams

A Certain Age

A Novel

by Beatriz Williams

A Certain Age by Beatriz Williams
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2016, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2017, 384 pages

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Book Summary

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.

The New York Herald-Times, May 29, 1922

TIT AND TATTLE, BY PATTY CAKE
At last! It's the day we've all been waiting for, dear readers: the opening of the latest and greatest Trial of the Century, and I don't mind telling you it's as hot as blazes inside this undersized Connecticut courtroom. You're much better off reading about it from the comfort of your own armchair, believe me. Oh, the suffering I endure on the sacred altar of journalism.

And now, after all these months of fuss and hysteria and delectable details—the Patent King, his beautiful heiress daughters, the downstairs tenant, the kitchen-maid-cum-tearful-Scarsdale-housewife and her munificent husband, the turret window, the missing gardener, the exact length and serration of the blade used to murder the victim—here we all sit, waving our makeshift fans before our perspiring faces, and it turns out these mythical figures are human after all! The Patent King is smaller than you'd think. ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. By the tone of the first few pages, did you get the sense that A Certain Age was set during the period between World War I and World War II? Why or why not? How does the author set the stage for the era when describing the Roaring Twenties in New York City?
  2. Soon after she's married to the most eligible bachelor in New York, Theresa discovers he keeps a mistress and has done so for most of their courtship. Still, she puts up with his philandering, bears him three children, and takes a lover of her own, until he asks for a divorce. It's clear she wonders if that was the "right" choice. Given what you know about Theresa's character at the beginning of the novel, do you think she followed the best path? How about at the end of...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Love and scandal among the upper classes is always fascinating, the writing is excellent and the author keeps several surprises to throw to you at the end. Highly recommended.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).

Full Review (433 words).

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Media Reviews

Star-Telegram

The story spans Fifth Avenue to the backroom speakeasies. Williams’ historic details and detailed descriptions only add to the decadence. New money, old money and intrigue make for a lot of lively fun.

Bookreporter - Carol Fitzgerald

A Certain Age was a wonderful summer Sunday read that I read briskly and will remember fondly.

Kirkus

A tale of Manhattan society in the Jazz Age, spiced liberally with secrets and scandal... Chapters oscillate in time, ending on cliffhangers that can be jarring, but this novel is mainly propelled by its period-perfect prose style. A certain age, acutely observed.

Author Blurb Jane Green
A world filled with elegance, charm, and bygone manners ... No-one does it better than Beatriz.

Reader Reviews

Bev C

A Certain Age
Let me begin by placing a few key phrases before you. "hedonism of the Jazz Age" in New York City Captain Octavian Rofrano (BOY)... honorable, devoted war hero, "battle scarred" paramour of the flamboyant Mrs. Theresa Marshall....   Read More

Marianne D. (Crofton, MD)

"A Certain Age," or "The (Rose) Cavalier"
Loved this book! It's not a deep, demanding read, but the romantic intrigues worked for me and the mystery line added just the right degree of complexity. Is it "the perfect summer beach read," which is the way it was described before I decided to ...   Read More

Cassandra E. (Fort Myers, FL)

A Certain Age
I am half way through the book and I have enjoyed it. Her historical background is great. She really know how to intertwine the characters and I amazed how her dialogue is as if you are there listening. I know by the time I finish the book it will be...   Read More

Shirley P. (Colorado Springs, CO)

Williams takes you to "A Certain Age"
I enjoy Beatiz William's books very much, though since I only recently discovered her, I have not read them all. The three I have read so far are quite different from one another, so I look forward to reading the next one. This book was again a ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

The Jazz Age: A Quick Tour

A Certain Age is set in the 1920s in America, known as the Jazz Age.

The author F. Scott Fitzgerald whose novel, The Great Gatsby was one of the defining publishing events of the decade, labeled the Jazz Age so because jazz as a music form became increasingly popular during this time especially in big cities like New York and Chicago.

The African Americans who were at the forefront of this new music included greats such as Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. Trendy music nurtured new dance moves such as the Charleston and the youth in general dived into the decade giddy after the end of World War I.

The Flapper Women had just won the right to vote in 1920 and the image of the "flapper," a young lady with bobbed hair and short skirts who ...

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