A CERTAIN AGE is a trip back in time to my favorite “modern” era. Maybe it’s simply nostalgia on my part, but it was a glorious time full of promise and limitless potential, and a sense of innocence we’ve lost.
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. (synopsis from Amazon)
A CERTAIN AGE’s character’s embody and reflect aspects of the era beautifully with each facet given a name and face. I truly felt transported back in time with:
Theresa- New York Society and old money matron, of a certain age.
Sophie- Bright young thing with the world before her. Pauper to “patent princess” thanks to daddy’s invention. She’s also the object of Jay’s affection and his desire to throw off the mantle of bachelorhood.
Jay/Ox- Theresa’s brother, impeccable pedigree and no money.
Boy(o)/Octavian- Recently returned from France, former war pilot. Experience has made him more man, and more troubled, than men twice his age. He’s also Theresa’s lover.
Sylvo- Theresa’s husband. They’ve had an agreement for years, initiated by Sylvo. It works for them.
While the male characters play integral roles, and we couldn’t do without them, most of their actions, to me, are in reaction to the women. They’re the ones who call the shots.
And of the women, speaking for myself, Theresa was by far the most interesting.
The opening “trial of the century” teases because we have no clue who’s on trial or for what, though murder is what usually results in a “trial of the century” moniker. The characters are then introduced and we get to know them and their all too human dramas, be they monied or poor, as they draw ever closer to the fateful day and its events that culminate in the trial.
Things were tooling along swimmingly and I was there hook, line, and sinker…..until we knew who and what in regards to the trial. There had been foreshadowing but I’d hoped it was my imagination. Sadly, it wasn’t and that’s when events became a bit melodramatic/soapy and somewhat on the predictable side. Despite that, Theresa’s POV was still interesting while Sophie essentially lost me. Bright young things aren’t all that entertaining to me.
But I certainly appreciated the twist(s) at the end.