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A Certain Age by Beatriz Williams is the first book in her Jazz Age novel series. While it is not as strong or deep as Williams’ other works, it serves as a great transition from Williams’ wildly popular Schuyler sister novels, which debuted right before this.
About A Certain Age by Beatriz Williams
This historical fiction novel set in 1920s New York City establishes the story lines that will play out through the Jazz Age novels by Beatriz Williams. We are introduced to Christopher’s speakeasy, the Schuylers, and the Fortescues, and the mad cap world of the roaring 20s.
The storyline in A Certain Age is actually picked up in Cocoa Beach, the third installment of this series. But pieces of this storyline continue through all the books in this series.
Characters, Oh Characters
I love a good character-driven novel, and Williams is a master at crafting characters I’m not sure if I’m supposed to love or hate. Not so much in this one.
The premise here is Fifth Avenue socialite Theresa Marshall falls in love with her boy toy, Octavian, a WWI hero. The only problem is Octavian falls for Sophie Fortescue when Theresa sends him to investigate her when her brother announces his intent to marry her.
Whoa, love triangle or….something.
But my problem with Theresa Marshall is that I don’t really give a damn about her. She’s a spoiled socialite with a convenient husband that allows her to carry on her love affairs. Her material needs are always met, and she gets to have fun on the side.
When I’m told to feel sorry for her, I don’t. I don’t despise her though. She’s perfectly fine as a character, but I won’t root for her.
Sophie Fortescue pulls forth a little more feeling, but not really. Her problem is she’s too washed out. A young woman whose father strikes gold on a patent is suddenly thrust into the spotlight of Fifth Avenue, the prey of every eligible bachelor thanks to dear old daddy. But when I wanted her to be strong, she was naive. When I wanted her to brave, she was stupid.
Again, this didn’t make me dislike her character. It only served to make me not as invested.
There were times when this book jumped around. It’s told in two parts: one through a reporter chronicling the trial of Sophie’s father who has been accused of murder and the present day when Octavian is sent to investigate Sophie for suitability for Theresa’s brother.
This is what got me: there were scenes of immense emotional tension that were not played out on screen. There was a gun shot, and the screen went blank!
But what happened?
The timeline suddenly jumps six months into the future at the conclusion of the trial, but you never see what happens after the gun shot.
Huh? Why wouldn’t you write this explosive scene for the reader to see for themselves? The effect was jarring, and I rewound the audiobook to make certain I hadn’t missed anything.
What It Has Going For It
It might be hard to believe, but I didn’t dislike this book. On the contrary, it was enjoyable. As I said, it sets up the Jazz Age novels nicely.
I love Cocoa Beach so it was nice to see the beginning of Virginia’s story before she goes to Florida. Although I’ll admit with the jumping timeline, it took until the very end for me to figure things out.
Williams also paints a realistic portrait of 1920s NYC. You will taste the champagne and smell the cigarette smoke because of Williams’ talent with the pen.
I don’t read books about dogs for obvious reasons, so I like to point out potential trigger issues to readers.
In A Certain Age by Beatriz Williams you will find:
This book is fairly bland when it comes to trigger issues.
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I’m glad I finally read the first book in the Jazz Age novels by Williams, and I’m looking forward to tackling her Schuyler sister novels next month.
Have You Read A Certain Age by Beatriz Williams?
If so, tell us what you thought in the comments below, but please – no spoilers!