Magazine article The Spectator

'The Awkward Age', by Francesca Segal - Review

Magazine article The Spectator

'The Awkward Age', by Francesca Segal - Review

Article excerpt

I like novelists who don't try to do everything in their novels, but just to do something well. This is what Francesca Segal achieves in The Awkward Age, published four years after her book, The Innocents, won the Costa First Novel Award. She takes six characters -- widowed, middle-aged

Julia, her teenage daughter Gwen, her grandparents-in-law Philip and Iris, her new American boyfriend James, and James's teenage son Nathan -- and plonks them in sturdy houses in Hampstead, sets the clock, and lets the story play out. Gwen and Nathan are now forced to share a dwelling. Like a good piece of Bach, what unfolds has an inevitability to it but manages also to be surprising at every moment. Segal has an uncanny ability to climb into the mind of each character and show us convincingly exactly what he or she would think, say and do.

The novel opens with these anti-Larkin words: 'The teenagers would fuck it up. Certainly they always tried; it was the only impulse Gwen and Nathan had in common, beside their hostility to one another.' Who is thinking this -- the author or one of the characters? It's an intriguing opening to an assured novel.

You can guess what gradually happens between the two reluctantly cohabiting teenagers. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.