Many of us have experienced this scenario: You want something to happen to you with all your heart, but when the time finally comes for your dream to come true you begin to have doubts, thinking, Is it really what I want?
It’s human to have doubts. Especially if you suddenly see a contrast between the “so familiar and thus ordinary” something that you are going to have, and the “mysterious and extraordinary” something that you could have had.
Francesca Segal’s The Innocents is about such dilemma. It is a tale of love and lust, commitment and doubt, promise and regret, all clashing with one another, bringing torment and uncertainty into a person’s previously strong beliefs.
Adam Newman and Rachel Gilbert have been sweethearts for twelve years, since they were sixteen, and are now finally engaged. Marrying Rachel is all Adam has ever wanted. He’s already like a son to her family; he even works for her father. He knows her personality, habits, quirks, wishes so well that he can easily imagine what their life together is going to be like for the years to come. And he’s totally fine with it. He loves her dearly.
Enter a new girl. Ellie Schneider, a younger cousin of Rachel, comes to London from New York. She’s a model, tall, beautiful, independent, and with a scandalous past to boot. She is the complete opposite of Rachel.
Suddenly, all the qualities that Rachel possesses have become shortcomings for Adam. Consumed by lust for Ellie and envying her independent spirit, he feels stifled by the predictability and conventionalism of his fiancée and her circle of family and friends. His forthcoming marriage to Rachel, which he used to desire so much, appears to be so predictable and so boring.
I’m not going to reveal how things progress and what happens in the end, you’ll have to read the novel and see.
I absolutely enjoyed it. It’s very well written, it’s funny, and it’s wise. The characters are interesting, true to life, and memorable. I personally loved the closeness of the Jewish community, their get-togethers, their caring about one another.
Highly recommend! 🙂