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In a Victorian terraced house, in north-west London, two families unite in imperfect harmony. After five years of widowhood, Julia is deeply, unexpectedly in love. If only her beloved daughter, Gwen, didn’t hate James so much. At the very least, she could be civil to his son, Nathan. Bringing together two households was never going to be easy, but Gwen’s struggle for indep In a Victorian terraced house, in north-west London, two families unite in imperfect harmony. After five years of widowhood, Julia is deeply, unexpectedly in love. If only her beloved daughter, Gwen, didn’t hate James so much. At the very least, she could be civil to his son, Nathan. Bringing together two households was never going to be easy, but Gwen’s struggle for independence, and the teenagers’ unexpected actions, will threaten Julia’s new happiness. The Awkward Age is about the blended family; about starting over and the attempt to build something beautiful amid the mess and complexity of what came before. It is a story about standing by the ones we love, even while they hurt us. We would do anything to make our children happy, wouldn’t we?


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In a Victorian terraced house, in north-west London, two families unite in imperfect harmony. After five years of widowhood, Julia is deeply, unexpectedly in love. If only her beloved daughter, Gwen, didn’t hate James so much. At the very least, she could be civil to his son, Nathan. Bringing together two households was never going to be easy, but Gwen’s struggle for indep In a Victorian terraced house, in north-west London, two families unite in imperfect harmony. After five years of widowhood, Julia is deeply, unexpectedly in love. If only her beloved daughter, Gwen, didn’t hate James so much. At the very least, she could be civil to his son, Nathan. Bringing together two households was never going to be easy, but Gwen’s struggle for independence, and the teenagers’ unexpected actions, will threaten Julia’s new happiness. The Awkward Age is about the blended family; about starting over and the attempt to build something beautiful amid the mess and complexity of what came before. It is a story about standing by the ones we love, even while they hurt us. We would do anything to make our children happy, wouldn’t we?

30 review for The Awkward Age

  1. 4 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Awkward......messy, complex, shattering, tender, and irresistible!!!!! The writing is agitatedly alive. It's impossible not to feel unaffected by all that is going on in "Awkward Age". This is my first time reading Francesca Segal. It won't be my last. I'm so impressed with this page-turning story, that I just bought her other novel called "The Innocents". It's Boxing Day in the United Kingdom....Julia had not slept the night before. She had been awake, worrying, disappointed, and trying to com Awkward......messy, complex, shattering, tender, and irresistible!!!!! The writing is agitatedly alive. It's impossible not to feel unaffected by all that is going on in "Awkward Age". This is my first time reading Francesca Segal. It won't be my last. I'm so impressed with this page-turning story, that I just bought her other novel called "The Innocents". It's Boxing Day in the United Kingdom....Julia had not slept the night before. She had been awake, worrying, disappointed, and trying to comprehend a very sticky situation. She caught her daughter, Gwen, in the arms of Nathan. Nathan is the son of James. Julia and James- [lovers]- lived together. Would you want 'your' teen daughter messing around with 'your' boyfriends son? Creepy, ...."AWKWARD"!!!! Julia's first husband, Daniel, had died years back. James, ex-wife, Pamela, lived in Boston. Messy - messy - messy: The in laws of David - the grandparents of Gwen - Philip and Iris are in this story too. EVERYONE gets a piece of the pie! - except the poor dog, Mole! James has two other kids besides Nathan. Just flying back and forth from Boston to England was enough to exhaust me - add the personalities of each of the characters-- their psyches...their emotional underpinnings--and there is a poignant intense story in itself..... BUT THEN..... ADD..... The-family-'earthquake-shit-hit-the-fan-surprise', and YIKES ALMIGHTY.....I thought I'd die! MY ANXIETY levels went UP! How can an adult couple -live together - under the same roof--when their teenage kids are 'in-love' having sex with each other? Think it can't happen? I bet there is at least one person reading this review who knows of a similar situation. Heck - I was in a 'similar' situation-- NOT THIS INTENSE - but I had a cousin -- a 3rd cousin --but I'm not reviewing 'that' story. The dialogue is real and piercing: Gwen says to her mother Julia: "Okay, fine. Look, we like each other, okay? And I know it's a little weird that you guys are dating and now we're dating and we all live in the same house, but we both understand the ramifications of it all before hand and considered it worth the risk". "You did, did you? How very mature. Well, we all live in the same house, as you so charmingly put it, because you are our offspring and we are your parents. This isn't a Noel Coward Play; it's not just some unfortunate coincidence in a boardinghouse. I do not allow it, and that's the end of the story." "We are not related, we never could be even if you guys – – we were adults before you even met". "Both Julia and James began to laugh, which was enraging, and after a moment James set both his palms on the table and stood up, scraping his chair back loudly. 'Enough'. I've had enough hilarity for one night". A little self pity - from 16 year old Gwen: an awkward age: "Gwen had felt known her whole life, known and cherished, and had, she realized, taken that charmed state entirely for granted. She now saw it for the flossy, muffling cocoon of naivety and infantile solipsism it must always have been. A delusion. Only her father had entirely loved and excepted her, and he would certainly never have let Julia spend the rest of Boxing Day charging around in derangement demanding that James write a prescription for the Pill, nor allowed her to leave a frantic and humiliating message on the GP's out-of-hours answering machine after James had said his own involvement would be inappropriate. Without her father, no one saw her. Except Nathan". Scintillating prose.....squabbling entertaining- genuinely heartfelt. ..ADDICTIVE READING!!! Thank you to Riverhead Books, Penguin Random House .....and Allison Carney for sending me this book! Loved it!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Larry H

    I'm about 3.5 stars here. Ah, family drama. What would we do without you? I'm just glad none of these issues happened on The Brady Bunch (although apparently some of the shenanigans were occurring backstage)! It has been a number of years since Julia Alden's husband died, leaving her with a young daughter, Gwen. Julia and Gwen have been an inseparable duo, weathering life's problems and enjoying adventures together, just the two of them. But now Julia has fallen in love with James, an American I'm about 3.5 stars here. Ah, family drama. What would we do without you? I'm just glad none of these issues happened on The Brady Bunch (although apparently some of the shenanigans were occurring backstage)! It has been a number of years since Julia Alden's husband died, leaving her with a young daughter, Gwen. Julia and Gwen have been an inseparable duo, weathering life's problems and enjoying adventures together, just the two of them. But now Julia has fallen in love with James, an American OB/GYN who has made his home in England for years. James has awakened Julia's passions—for life, love, sex, and security—things she figured she'd never find again. The two plan to merge their lives and their households together, and receive nothing but enthusiastic support from James' daughter as well as Julia's inlaws, a couple which has their own interesting relationship. The roadblock? Gwen, now 16, completely dislikes James, and can't even deign to keep her hatred a secret. Not only does she resent the fact that her mother has found happiness again and (as she sees it) abandoned her, she now has to share her house with James and his egotistical, 17-year-old son, Nathan. Every day is an emotional minefield for the blended family. But after a Thanksgiving trip to James' Boston hometown, Gwen and Nathan begin to see each other in a different light. It's not long before the new relationship turns the household upside down, bringing drama and recrimination, and severely testing Julia and James' relationship. "How was it possible that one spoiled, angry teenager had wrested control of all their lives?" Even as your children grow to adulthood, are you expected to sacrifice your own happiness for their sake? Should your loyalty always lie with your own child, even if it might cause stress in your own romantic relationship? How much, and for how long, should you owe your child for a difficult childhood? Does honesty really mean telling the person you love everything you feel, even if it's about their child? The Awkward Age is an interesting look at these questions. It's a take on modern relationships, gender roles, and how often the things we don't say to one another can cause the most damage. The book definitely has a soap opera-esque feel, even veering into melodrama, and at times I wanted to shake some of these characters to get them to be sensible. I absolutely loved Francesca Segal's first novel, The Innocents (see my original review), an interpretation of The Age of Innocence set in a Jewish suburb of London. Segal created fascinating characters and a plot you couldn't tear yourself away from. I didn't feel as if she succeeded as well with The Awkward Age . I thought the first part of the book, which dealt with Julia and James' growing relationship and how everyone around them reacted, was really interesting, but once the melodrama began it lost a bit of its appeal. Perhaps the plot was realistic, but everyone just acted so unpleasantly and dodged around the elephant in the room for so long, I wished I could have walked into the story and set everyone straight. Segal is an excellent writer, and there is a lot to like about this book. Her characters, while irritating, are really well-drawn. (I found Julia's inlaws and James' ex-wife fascinating.) I just wish this book was less dramatic and more contemplative, because when her storytelling does the talking, the reader definitely wins. (P.S.: Definitely read The Innocents !) See all of my reviews at http://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blo....

  3. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    3.5 Blended families, extremely challenging and something I have experienced myself. Teenage years, difficult for many maybe especially so for those whose parents are embarking on a new relationship. I love this authors writing, very realistic, natural yet elegant. The premise is intersting, fertile ground, can go so many ways with this situation. Loved the first part of the book, though I found both teenagers hard to like. Still, I was interested to see how this played out, could a middle groun 3.5 Blended families, extremely challenging and something I have experienced myself. Teenage years, difficult for many maybe especially so for those whose parents are embarking on a new relationship. I love this authors writing, very realistic, natural yet elegant. The premise is intersting, fertile ground, can go so many ways with this situation. Loved the first part of the book, though I found both teenagers hard to like. Still, I was interested to see how this played out, could a middle ground be found, happiness at the end of the rainbow? The second half, unfortunately for me descended into so what of a melodrama, which is not a style I appreciate. As for the answer to the above question, you will have to read the book for the answer. So four stars for the first half, three for the second. Those who come from blended families or those who are thinking of entering into one, this book may serve as a guidepost or maybe a little warning. Or maybe we are all just better off believing that things that are meant to be will happen as they will.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    I really wanted to like this book, but I found all of the characters unlikable, and the entire situation they found themselves in was obnoxious. The author's sentences sometimes reminded my of high school English where my teacher insisted on finding obscurely creative ways to convey an idea - there was a fussiness that I just didn't care for. I really wanted to like this book, but I found all of the characters unlikable, and the entire situation they found themselves in was obnoxious. The author's sentences sometimes reminded my of high school English where my teacher insisted on finding obscurely creative ways to convey an idea - there was a fussiness that I just didn't care for.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    (3.5) I adored Segal’s first novel, The Innocents, a sophisticated remake of Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence set in a contemporary Jewish community in London. I wasn’t as fond of this second book, but in her study of an unusual blended family the characterization is nearly as strong as in her debut. Julia Alden lost her husband to cancer five years ago. A second chance at happiness came when James Fuller, a divorced American obstetrician, came to her for piano lessons. He soon moved in with (3.5) I adored Segal’s first novel, The Innocents, a sophisticated remake of Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence set in a contemporary Jewish community in London. I wasn’t as fond of this second book, but in her study of an unusual blended family the characterization is nearly as strong as in her debut. Julia Alden lost her husband to cancer five years ago. A second chance at happiness came when James Fuller, a divorced American obstetrician, came to her for piano lessons. He soon moved in with Julia and her sixteen-year-old daughter Gwen in their northwest London home, and his seventeen-year-old son, Nathan, away at boarding school during the week, came on weekends. Julia is as ill at ease with Nathan as James is with Gwen, and the kids seem to hate each other. That is, until, on a trip to Boston for Thanksgiving with James’s ex, Gwen and Nathan fall for each other. Awkward is one way of putting it. They’re not technically step-siblings as James and Julia aren’t married, but it doesn’t sit right with the adults, and it will have unexpected consequences. The first third or so of the book was my favorite, comparable to Jonathan Safran Foer or Jonathan Franzen. Before long the romantic comedy atmosphere tips into YA melodrama, but for me the book was saved by a handful of things: a balance of generations, with Gwen’s grandparents a delightful background presence; the eye to the past, whether it be Gwen’s late father or the occasional Jewish ritual; the Anglo-American element; and a realistic ending. Releases May 16th. Favorite passage: “Though Pamela [James’s British ex-wife] had not grown up with Thanksgiving, as a hostess she had nonetheless managed to capture its essence: a day on which hardworking Americans are required to spend upwards of five hours on a freeway (one way) in order to eat turkey, very late, in the twilit company of family members avoided the rest of the year.”

  6. 5 out of 5

    Wendy Greenberg

    I found this a smug novel of middle class manners. Despite the family household imploding, we still have transatlantic travel, good relations with previous in-laws, ex-wives etc. It is moot whether the house of cards will tumble by unplanned 16 year old's pregnancy or missing "the" Rossini in Milan...Found it self-indulgent management of problems (by the extended family) rather than finding solutions. A cast of largely self-centred players riven with an overblown sense of entitlement. I found this a smug novel of middle class manners. Despite the family household imploding, we still have transatlantic travel, good relations with previous in-laws, ex-wives etc. It is moot whether the house of cards will tumble by unplanned 16 year old's pregnancy or missing "the" Rossini in Milan...Found it self-indulgent management of problems (by the extended family) rather than finding solutions. A cast of largely self-centred players riven with an overblown sense of entitlement.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    I've never wanted to scream at characters more I've never wanted to scream at characters more

  8. 5 out of 5

    TL

    I received this via Goodreads Giveaways in a exchange for an honest review. All my opinions are my own:). ---- I appreciate winning and being sent the book but I tried to read it and the print in the book is giving me a headache :( (Had a concussion in 2008 and since then small print is a no go for me.. I've had to get rid of quite a few books because of this issue and/or return em to the bookstore.) Unfortunately, have to throw in the towel. I received this via Goodreads Giveaways in a exchange for an honest review. All my opinions are my own:). ---- I appreciate winning and being sent the book but I tried to read it and the print in the book is giving me a headache :( (Had a concussion in 2008 and since then small print is a no go for me.. I've had to get rid of quite a few books because of this issue and/or return em to the bookstore.) Unfortunately, have to throw in the towel.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Brenda

    Meh... nothing fantastic about this book and it dragged on for way too long.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Shelf talker: I once heard a great quote that perfectly summarizes this book: "The problem is, humans raise humans." The Awkward Age explores what happens when our different roles and identities conflict with each other, and how we all struggle to find those delicate balances that keep our relationships alive. Segal's novel is a rather drawn out novel about what happens when an American man with a son and a British woman with a daughter who are deeply in love move in together, uniting the househo Shelf talker: I once heard a great quote that perfectly summarizes this book: "The problem is, humans raise humans." The Awkward Age explores what happens when our different roles and identities conflict with each other, and how we all struggle to find those delicate balances that keep our relationships alive. Segal's novel is a rather drawn out novel about what happens when an American man with a son and a British woman with a daughter who are deeply in love move in together, uniting the households. James's son Nathan believes his father and mother have an undeniable sexual bond and will end up together again, and Julia's daughter Gwen loathes James, most specifically for creating a chasm in her and her mother's relationship. This is a novel where you don't like anyone. I generally don't mind this, to be honest, but Segal appeared (I could be wrong) to be attempting to just show how human everyone is. In reality, I felt she only created the sympathy she was aiming for for specific characters or at very specific moments, and did not succeed in making it a universal quality. Some characters remained very one dimensional (especially James and Nathan), while others really flourished as full characters, complete with motives and flaws and emotions (like Gwen and Iris). Honestly, it felt like whenever James was in a scene, it was either to think about how much he hated Gwen, to think about how perfect James was, or to physically show affection or Julia. That was it. I liked the idea of Julia's character, so weak and dependent while trying to carve an identity to, but in execution, I didn't believe her, and she felt like a caricature of the Julia Segal originally came up with. Despite these flaws and a rather slow pace that did not help the characters who seemed only capable of having the same four thoughts on repeat, I really dug this book. I loved her parallels between relationships, I loved the variety of relationships presented and explored, I loved the contradictions and the humanity of it all. I loved when she was successful at making me feel one way toward a character when we were in their head and another way two pages later when someone else took the lead. I loved watching characters attempt to grow, struggling to shed old ways and move into new ones, and seeing them grow in some places but not others, despite the wishes of everyone else (including the reader). I loved seeing so many relationships exist in the precarious state of one or both parties taking the other for granted and following through to the inevitable problems. Most of all, I loved the exploration of what it means to be a parent and a person, that inevitability that we all play multiple roles on our lives, from caregiver to support system to lover to friend to child and back again. What identity gets our priority? Is it the one that makes us happiest, the one that we have a moral obligation to fill, or the one easiest to fill? How does an enmeshed relationship survive when someone decides to no longer be enmeshed? And how do we leave one extreme without going to the far extreme?

  11. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Lee-Tammeus

    When my husband says, "You've been reading that book for awhile now," I know that's not a good sign. Reading this book was a bit like walking through sludge. It was long, laborious, and repeated itself repeatedly. The plot, which can be summed up it a few clipped sentences takes 358 pages to explain. Pretty sure it could have been told in much less. Spoilers: Two people - one divorced, one widowed - meet, fall in love. They both have teenagers - man has a boy, woman has a girl. They blend famili When my husband says, "You've been reading that book for awhile now," I know that's not a good sign. Reading this book was a bit like walking through sludge. It was long, laborious, and repeated itself repeatedly. The plot, which can be summed up it a few clipped sentences takes 358 pages to explain. Pretty sure it could have been told in much less. Spoilers: Two people - one divorced, one widowed - meet, fall in love. They both have teenagers - man has a boy, woman has a girl. They blend families. Boy and girl have a relationship. Everyone freaks out. Girl gets pregnant. Everyone freaks out. Girl has miscarriage. Everyone freaks out. Boy sleeps with someone else. Husband and son move out. No one's in love anymore. Last scene: Wife, a year later sees husband at random event. Spark still there. Walk away smiling. The End. Good grief - now that I've written it out - it actually is more contrived than I once originally thought. The freak out parts last for eons and the writing is a bit choppy. One sentence may be about one thing then suddenly we just jump to something else entirely - I found myself rereading sentences, sure I missed a transition or two, but nope. So, kudos to Segal for getting this out there, but I'm hoping The Innocents - the book that put her on the map - is better than this.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    The Kids are All Right: THE AWKWARD AGE by Francesca Segal http://fangswandsandfairydust.com/201... I voluntarily reviewed an advance readers copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted. With what is a natural protective and maternal reflex Julia has spoiled her daughter, Gwen after her husband dies. Gwen demands her mother’s utter devotion and complete attention as it is what she is accustomed to. She’s not needy she just feels ent The Kids are All Right: THE AWKWARD AGE by Francesca Segal http://fangswandsandfairydust.com/201... I voluntarily reviewed an advance readers copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted. With what is a natural protective and maternal reflex Julia has spoiled her daughter, Gwen after her husband dies. Gwen demands her mother’s utter devotion and complete attention as it is what she is accustomed to. She’s not needy she just feels entitled. You know that even as an adult, Gwen will impose upon on her mother for things like babysitting, money, etc. On the other hand, James and his ex have raised entitled and cavalier children. Gwen is perhaps cavalier too, or maybe just self-centered. Almost out of high school Nathan actually harbors a belief that his parents will get back together. When James and Julia combine their households they do so without really preparing their kids. This is partly a coming-of-age story, only I am not sure who is coming of age, the children or the parents. There’s also a back story about Julia’s in-laws. Julia is close to them and is estranged from her own mother. It speaks to a feeling of an extended, molecular family, but I thought of that as its own story and honestly didn’t think the story of Julia’s in-laws belonged in the same book. The mother-in-law seems a real self-involved character while the father-in-law seems in decline. Both parents seem strangely blasé about their late son. It may be partly about how “family” is constructed of truth, love, and sometimes, lies. We lie to ourselves and each other to make a family “rub along.” It was obvious to me that Nathan starts his relationship with Gwen to drive a wedge between his father and Julia. Equally obvious, except to Gwen, is his cavalier attitude. The top line in the blurb says it all: when it comes down to it, a relationship between James and Julia, parents of pissy teens, is doomed to failure as they naturally take their own kids’ sides. I saw where it was heading but ultimately, found the parents’ behavior with their kids too insipid to really care about the outcome of the relationship. Both parents are taken in by their children and not seeing reality is a wedge a relationship has a hard time surviving. Eventually, both kids will come out on the other side, all right and could probably teach a workshop on how to manipulate parents. Well narrated by the effervescently voiced Jayne Entwistle who totally gets all the major characters carefully. I kept seeing the characters very clearly through her voice. Listen for a good tale of how NOT to combine households and to NOT raise privileged kids.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Brie

    The story is intriguing, the characters were imbued with just the right amount of whimsy, and overall it was a delightful read.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    The first page packs so much in so few words. It sets the rest of the novel up superbly. And then the story unfolds slowly, the meat of it sandwiched between two Christmases. The novel struck me as so down to earth. It's universal yet so specific (as every good novel should be). It's a year in the life of a melded family. It not only takes a close look at the core family but at its varied extensions. It shows a strong mother-daughter relationship partly forged by tragedy and what happens when li The first page packs so much in so few words. It sets the rest of the novel up superbly. And then the story unfolds slowly, the meat of it sandwiched between two Christmases. The novel struck me as so down to earth. It's universal yet so specific (as every good novel should be). It's a year in the life of a melded family. It not only takes a close look at the core family but at its varied extensions. It shows a strong mother-daughter relationship partly forged by tragedy and what happens when life steps in to interfere. What happens when the invaders are invited in by your own mother? The author brilliantly lets you see this new world from everyone concerend. The author had an interesting writing style. I was engaged and curious about the characters but I never really felt invested in any of them. I felt more like an observer on the outside, looking in. Overall, it was a good story and good writing. It was simple and light in the telling and did have something to say without being heavy-handed. It wasn't lyrical or poetic in a way that some other novels are but it was interesting. It was universal and deep in the weeds and read a bit like nonfiction. For most of the novel, I felt held at arms length from the characters. It felt a bit as if they were contained within the pages and never quite leapt into three dimensions. And then the author led me toward the end of the book and I felt heartbreak. Because of how the author constructed the book, the fall felt harder and the break more palbable. Stunning. The ending felt real and open-ended as life itself. This novel is about many things but at its core I think it's about the magical thinking that love sometimes invites, whether it be first love or second love or hundredth love. It's also about endings and beginnings that can be counted as blessings and curses to all Involved. It's about control and losing it and finally having to admit that total control of anyone or any situation is a fairy tale. It's also about the lies we tell ourselves and how they shadow the lies we tell others about ourselves and our life and about love. It's about who your people are and what happens when the one person you have made your world about abandons you. It's about the polite lies we tell, when we say everything is fine when in fact it is not. And from that the crevice that forms when we don't feel safe enough to say what we really feel or think and how that can become the new normal.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jacki (Julia Flyte)

    Julia was widowed five years ago and since then has been a devoted single mother to her 16 year old daughter Gwen. But when she meets American doctor James, everything changes. James moves in with Julia and Gwen, bringing his 17 year old son Daniel. Both teenagers resent their new step-parents and step-siblings, and the constant bickering is putting everyone on edge. However things get even harder on the parents when Gwen and Daniel become romantically involved. There's a slight "ick" factor to Julia was widowed five years ago and since then has been a devoted single mother to her 16 year old daughter Gwen. But when she meets American doctor James, everything changes. James moves in with Julia and Gwen, bringing his 17 year old son Daniel. Both teenagers resent their new step-parents and step-siblings, and the constant bickering is putting everyone on edge. However things get even harder on the parents when Gwen and Daniel become romantically involved. There's a slight "ick" factor to this premise. Of course it's not incest, but it teeters on the edge of what feels morally acceptable and that of course is part of Julia and James's issue. But they also realise that the chances of a relationship between a (spoiled and immature) 16 and (marginally more mature) 17 year old enduring are close to nil, and what will it mean for the family when they split? So the parents are hell bent on separating the pair and at the same time desperately trying to retain a united front and not take sides. As Julia character observes at one point, "teenage relationships were always roller coasters, but how had the whole family ended up trapped with them on the ride?" What I liked about this book is how good a job it does of taking you inside the heads of all the different characters: not just the central four but also other members of their families. There's lot of "meat" to the book and it would be an interesting one to discuss in a book club because everyone knows someone who is struggling with the issues of blended families in one way or another. However at the same time I found the storyline a bit dragged out and I actively disliked Gwen and eventually her doting mother Julia as well. My favourite character was Julia's former father-in-law, Philip.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Andi (A Literal Hottie)

    Normally I wouldn't let my hating a character affect how much I like the story itself but this time it really ruined what could have been good chick lit. Julia is a terrible mother allowing Gwen to be a spoiled brat. The complicated mess that is this blended family would have or could have been much better had Julia not had a voice. What an idiot. I suppose what I can say is that the story telling worked and moved quickly allowing me to have these strong feelings. But it should be considered a c Normally I wouldn't let my hating a character affect how much I like the story itself but this time it really ruined what could have been good chick lit. Julia is a terrible mother allowing Gwen to be a spoiled brat. The complicated mess that is this blended family would have or could have been much better had Julia not had a voice. What an idiot. I suppose what I can say is that the story telling worked and moved quickly allowing me to have these strong feelings. But it should be considered a cautionary tale about what happens when your child thinks the world revolves around them. I don't even know if I can recommend this one, I'll have to think about it some more

  17. 4 out of 5

    Laura Spira

    To be honest I didn't expect to like this book. I didn't like Francesca Segal's previous book, The Innocents, and was surprised that it received awards and plaudits. But reviews of this book tempted me. It proved to be perfect reading for a couple of wakeful hours in the middle of a very hot night. The story deals with Julia, a widowed piano teacher, and James, a divorced American obstetrician, attempting to create a blended family with their teenage children, Gwen, Julia's daughter and Nathan, J To be honest I didn't expect to like this book. I didn't like Francesca Segal's previous book, The Innocents, and was surprised that it received awards and plaudits. But reviews of this book tempted me. It proved to be perfect reading for a couple of wakeful hours in the middle of a very hot night. The story deals with Julia, a widowed piano teacher, and James, a divorced American obstetrician, attempting to create a blended family with their teenage children, Gwen, Julia's daughter and Nathan, James' son. Initially resenting each other, the teenagers embark on a doomed love affair. I think that Segal captures teenage emotion very credibly: both Gwen and Nathan are unattractive in the way that teenagers often are but the reader gets a sense that they will turn into sensible adults eventually. Gwen's emotional ups and downs have been tolerated by her mother on the basis of their shared grief for the loss of her father and it was inevitable that Julia finding a new partner would affect their relationship. Segal explores this with sensitivity. The peripheral characters are interesting. Pamela, James' ex-wife is something of a caricature but Philip and Iris, Julia's in-laws, are well drawn (although I found it odd that Iris referred to Philip using both his first name and surname). They are realistically supportive to Julia and Gwen through the period covered by the story, while their own relationship faces some challenges. Segal writes well and evokes the atmosphere of north-west London very clearly. But, although more well-rounded characters than in Segal's previous book, these people seem to exist in a bubble. Maybe life in Hampstead and Gospel Oak is like this but the outside world hardly impinges on them and money is clearly no object. They are able to spend a great deal of their time examining themselves and their relationships and this overwhelming sense of solipsism prevents the reader from engaging with them with any real interest. (I received an ARC from Netgalley.)

  18. 5 out of 5

    Meredith

    Maybe a 3.5. This is one of those books where the premise was better than the actual story. Shifting points of view allowed a glimpse into the major players so I was sympathetic to nearly everyone at one point or another, no matter how annoying they were in an earlier chapter. Blended families are full of drama and theirs is no exception.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Hicks

    At times I literally hated this book but I’m glad I finished it. None of these characters had any redeeming qualities and were just all together horrible people. It makes me sad to think people like this truly exist in this world. I was kinda bummed by the ending because it was setting it up for something really good then it just fizzled. It’s like the author finally got bored with writing and just added the last chapter as an afterthought. I was originally going to give it three stars but gave At times I literally hated this book but I’m glad I finished it. None of these characters had any redeeming qualities and were just all together horrible people. It makes me sad to think people like this truly exist in this world. I was kinda bummed by the ending because it was setting it up for something really good then it just fizzled. It’s like the author finally got bored with writing and just added the last chapter as an afterthought. I was originally going to give it three stars but gave it two because of the ending. I am glad it’s over and I’m done with these characters (with the exception of Philip Alden and Joan. They were lovely people)

  20. 5 out of 5

    Marlee Waldman

    This book was a very interesting story— always made me want to know what will happen next. It had elevated vocabulary and a beautiful descriptive way to share every detail. I thought that each character was honest and real and multifaceted. Not my favorite book ever but I thoroughly enjoyed it and I’m glad I came across it

  21. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    Precise, gifted writing elevates this novel many levels beyond what might otherwise seem a melodramatic plot. It's hard not to be a touch affected emotionally reading it as a parent, wondering if your own rose-tinted glasses could ever lead to similar repercussions. Precise, gifted writing elevates this novel many levels beyond what might otherwise seem a melodramatic plot. It's hard not to be a touch affected emotionally reading it as a parent, wondering if your own rose-tinted glasses could ever lead to similar repercussions.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Jackson

    Not perfect, but five stars because it just...moved me and it was so dramatic and I could. not. put. it. down. Oh my heart. This book grabbed it.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Gayle

    Full review at: http://everydayiwritethebookblog.com/... If you enjoy seeing families in distress under a microscope and watching them squirm, then you will enjoy The Awkward Age by Francesca Segal. The cast of characters: 46 year-old Julia, widowed and newly in love with James, a 50-something American OB/GYN; Julia’s sullen 16 year-old daughter Gwen, who is still grieving the loss of her father; and James’ 18 year-old son Nathan, who is about to graduate high school and go to a prestigious colleg Full review at: http://everydayiwritethebookblog.com/... If you enjoy seeing families in distress under a microscope and watching them squirm, then you will enjoy The Awkward Age by Francesca Segal. The cast of characters: 46 year-old Julia, widowed and newly in love with James, a 50-something American OB/GYN; Julia’s sullen 16 year-old daughter Gwen, who is still grieving the loss of her father; and James’ 18 year-old son Nathan, who is about to graduate high school and go to a prestigious college to study medicine. Julia and James move in together in London, merging their families, while Gwen and Nathan hate each other… until they don’t. Gwen and Nathan’s relationship turns romantic, which is terribly awkward for Julia and James, at also puts them at odds for the first time in their relationship. And then, Gwen gets pregnant, which sends the whole difficult situation into overdrive. How will they, as a family, handle this mess? How can be it resolved in a way that doesn’t cause terrible pain? Are James and Julia ready to be grandparents – to the same baby? Francesca Segal relates her story with detail, compassion and that beautiful eloquence that so many British writers have. The Awkward Age is told mostly from Julia and Gwen’s perspectives, but there are additional characters with a stake in this family, and Segal lets us into their heads too. We see the action unfold from several perspectives, with much attention paid to their inner turmoil these characters are in. What I liked: the writing, the very plausible dialogue, the theme of the awkwardness of love at any age. What I didn’t like as much: how spoiled Nathan and Gwen were (it detracted from the plausibility of the story), the claustrophobia triggered by pages of dialogue (internal and spoken) among the same small family. Sometimes I just needed a break! Overall, I liked The Awkward Age and would recommend it to people who enjoy domestic drama.Segal conveyed empathy for each character, even babyish Gwen – it never felt as if she was judging them or their circumstances – which I think was her point. Life can get awkward, and we just need to deal with it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kats

    About 20% into the book I was ready to abandon it, because the characters were so annoying, and their conversations even more so, but after reading the mind-boggling memoir Educated by Tara Westover, I needed a chick litty palate cleanser, and somehow this did the job. What really kept my attention was the place where it all happened; in my own neighbourhood where I spent my early childhood and later, the more formative years - NW5 Belsize Park & Kentish Town. Oh, it's always good to go home, ev About 20% into the book I was ready to abandon it, because the characters were so annoying, and their conversations even more so, but after reading the mind-boggling memoir Educated by Tara Westover, I needed a chick litty palate cleanser, and somehow this did the job. What really kept my attention was the place where it all happened; in my own neighbourhood where I spent my early childhood and later, the more formative years - NW5 Belsize Park & Kentish Town. Oh, it's always good to go home, even if it's just on the page. :-) A patchwork (or do we say "blended" these days?) family are in their first year of living together in Belsize Park, and while Julia (47) and her American partner, James (55), seem to be a perfect match and are madly in love, there is trouble in paradise, thanks to Julia's 16 year old daughter, Gwen, and James' son, Nathan (18?), who hate each other. James' daughter Saskia (who is at college in the US) is sweet and accommodating but too far away to be an everyday peace maker. The most fun, interesting and, in fact, likeable characters are actually Gwen's paternal grandparents, Philip and Iris, whose son Daniel had died of liver cancer 6 years prior. Whenever they show up (or in fact, James' overbearing ex-wife, Pamela is on the scene), the novel is at its most alive and entertaining, but the parent-teenager relationships are tedious and infuriating. With those sort of precious and overly attentive parenting approaches, I am not surprised that the next generation boasts so many kids with "entitlement issues". At the end of the novel I wasn't sure which generation The Awkward Age referred to; the moody, egotistical teenagers, the torn, tired middle-aged parents, or the grandparents who had their own set of issues to deal with. It would appear that even in your 70s one can't simply sit back and enjoy the "golden years".... potentially there is awkwardness at every stage of life. Crumbs.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jackie Clary

    I really liked it. I liked the examination of the consequences of parenting choices. The characters were really interesting and I found myself thinking about them when I wasn't reading the book. My favorite passage in the book: "It had been Dr. Fraenkel who'd suggested (in desperation, Gwen felt, after several other conversational dead ends) that mother and daughter spend more time together on activities that made them happy, and there was nowhere that brought Gwen as much joy as this paradise o I really liked it. I liked the examination of the consequences of parenting choices. The characters were really interesting and I found myself thinking about them when I wasn't reading the book. My favorite passage in the book: "It had been Dr. Fraenkel who'd suggested (in desperation, Gwen felt, after several other conversational dead ends) that mother and daughter spend more time together on activities that made them happy, and there was nowhere that brought Gwen as much joy as this paradise of pristine dyes and clay, and the promise of future projects. She did not know with any certainty which activities made her mother happy. Maybe playing the piano? A knot tightened in her stomach. Until recently, she had always believed that Julia's happiness lay simply in spending time with her, regardless of what they did -- certainly that was what she'd always said."

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tracy

    I checked this out of the library and let it sit on my shelf for weeks because it sounded kinda stupid. 47 year old widowed woman with a teenage daughter and 55 year old divorced man with a teenage son fall in love and move in together. Teenagers hate each other at first but then fall in love and all hell breaks loose. Lots of potential to be super Lifetime. Segal's writing saves the day. She is able to turn this pretty preposterous set of circumstances into a fairly realistic-seeming story. I d I checked this out of the library and let it sit on my shelf for weeks because it sounded kinda stupid. 47 year old widowed woman with a teenage daughter and 55 year old divorced man with a teenage son fall in love and move in together. Teenagers hate each other at first but then fall in love and all hell breaks loose. Lots of potential to be super Lifetime. Segal's writing saves the day. She is able to turn this pretty preposterous set of circumstances into a fairly realistic-seeming story. I do agree with the reviewers who said they hated all of the characters. They are all awful. I especially hated manipulative, entitled, selfish Gwen, but her mom (whose name I can't remember) came in a close second. Christ almighty - be a fucking parent and say no to the spoiled brat every once in awhile.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    Francesca Segal's The Awkward Age (Riverhead, digital galley) may borrow the name of a Henry James novel, but it's a thoroughly modern drama of a blended London family. Julia and James are blissfully in love despite the resistance of Julia's 16-year-old daughter Gwen, who can't stand James nor his snarky 17-year-old son Nathan. Julia's former in-laws and James' first wife further complicate the new marriage, but they can't compete with the storm of emotions unleashed when Gwen and Nathan hook up Francesca Segal's The Awkward Age (Riverhead, digital galley) may borrow the name of a Henry James novel, but it's a thoroughly modern drama of a blended London family. Julia and James are blissfully in love despite the resistance of Julia's 16-year-old daughter Gwen, who can't stand James nor his snarky 17-year-old son Nathan. Julia's former in-laws and James' first wife further complicate the new marriage, but they can't compete with the storm of emotions unleashed when Gwen and Nathan hook up. Awkward, to say the least, but it makes for a good story. from On a Clear Day I Can Read Forever

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mrs Victoria E Franks

    Very familiar territory I loved the depiction of intergenerational conflict and how impossible it seems at times. I thought that the characters were well drawn although a little cliched. The character of James ex wife and Julia's mother in law were a bit like caricatures . The women in general are certainly portrayed as the protagonists and this is refreshing. The most irritating and selfish is Gwen who is not helped by her overweening mother. However most of the characters are believable and eng Very familiar territory I loved the depiction of intergenerational conflict and how impossible it seems at times. I thought that the characters were well drawn although a little cliched. The character of James ex wife and Julia's mother in law were a bit like caricatures . The women in general are certainly portrayed as the protagonists and this is refreshing. The most irritating and selfish is Gwen who is not helped by her overweening mother. However most of the characters are believable and engaging.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Meredith

    This book made me very not excited to have a teenager, BUT it is absolutely brilliant in its portrayal of the blending of two families, the mother-daughter dyad, the irrational impulses of adolescence that feel true and righteous to the teen experiencing them, the fear of an empty nest, and so much more. The writing is so beautiful and insightful. I would read a sequel to this in a heartbeat to find out what happens to all these people.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Megan K.

    Family drama is my favorite genre but the adults in this book were sooooo insufferable. Both of them. It made me want to call them up and give them a piece of my mind. Also, none of the characters had any real depth but particularly Julia and James seemed like cardboard cut outs of humans. I did not understand why they were "so in love" with each other or what motivated or moved either of them. This was another "random pick off the library book shelf book" so for that it was fine but like I woul Family drama is my favorite genre but the adults in this book were sooooo insufferable. Both of them. It made me want to call them up and give them a piece of my mind. Also, none of the characters had any real depth but particularly Julia and James seemed like cardboard cut outs of humans. I did not understand why they were "so in love" with each other or what motivated or moved either of them. This was another "random pick off the library book shelf book" so for that it was fine but like I wouldn't go hunt this book down if I were you.

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