BN.com Gift Guide

A Fortunate Age

( 69 )

Overview

Like The Group, Mary McCarthy's classic tale about coming of age in New York, Joanna Smith Rakoff 's richly drawn and immensely satisfying first novel details the lives of a group of Oberlin graduates whose ambitions and friendships threaten to unravel as they chase their dreams, shed their youth, and build their lives in Brooklyn during the late 1990s and the turn of the twenty-first century.

There's Lil, a would-be scholar whose marriage to an egotistical writer initially ...

See more details below
Available through our Marketplace sellers.
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (59) from $1.99   
  • New (15) from $1.99   
  • Used (44) from $1.99   
Close
Sort by
Page 1 of 2
Showing 1 – 8 of 15 (2 pages)
Note: Marketplace items are not eligible for any BN.com coupons and promotions
$1.99
Seller since 2009

Feedback rating:

(115)

Condition:

New — never opened or used in original packaging.

Like New — packaging may have been opened. A "Like New" item is suitable to give as a gift.

Very Good — may have minor signs of wear on packaging but item works perfectly and has no damage.

Good — item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Acceptable — item is in working order but may show signs of wear such as scratches or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Used — An item that has been opened and may show signs of wear. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Refurbished — A used item that has been renewed or updated and verified to be in proper working condition. Not necessarily completed by the original manufacturer.

New
New NEW BOOK UNREAD.

Ships from: Miami, FL

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$1.99
Seller since 2008

Feedback rating:

(3062)

Condition: New
All orders ship SAME or NEXT business day. Expedited shipments will be received in 1-5 business days within the United States. We proudly ship to APO/FPO addresses. 100% ... Satisfaction Guaranteed! Read more Show Less

Ships from: Grandview Heights, OH

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$1.99
Seller since 2008

Feedback rating:

(3062)

Condition: New
All orders ship SAME or NEXT business day. Expedited shipments will be received in 1-5 business days within the United States. We proudly ship to APO/FPO addresses. 100% ... Satisfaction Guaranteed! Read more Show Less

Ships from: Grandview Heights, OH

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$1.99
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:

(11)

Condition: New
NEW BOOK UNREAD

Ships from: MIAMI, FL

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$1.99
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:

(311)

Condition: New
Hardcover New 1416590773 XCITING PRICES JUST FOR YOU. Ships within 24 hours. Best customer service. 100% money back return policy.

Ships from: Bensalem, PA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$1.99
Seller since 2010

Feedback rating:

(754)

Condition: New
Hardcover New 1416590773! ! ! ! BEST PRICES WITH A SERVICE YOU CAN RELY! ! !

Ships from: Philadelphia, PA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$1.99
Seller since 2010

Feedback rating:

(1007)

Condition: New
Hardcover New 1416590773 Friendly Return Policy. A+++ Customer Service!

Ships from: Philadelphia, PA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$1.99
Seller since 2009

Feedback rating:

(2530)

Condition: New
2009-04-07 Hardcover New 1416590773 Ships Within 24 Hours. Tracking Number available for all USA orders. Excellent Customer Service. Upto 15 Days 100% Money Back Gurantee. Try ... Our Fast! ! ! ! Shipping With Tracking Number. Read more Show Less

Ships from: Bensalem, PA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
Page 1 of 2
Showing 1 – 8 of 15 (2 pages)
Close
Sort by
A Fortunate Age: A Novel

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$10.93
BN.com price
This digital version does not exactly match the physical book displayed here.

Overview

Like The Group, Mary McCarthy's classic tale about coming of age in New York, Joanna Smith Rakoff 's richly drawn and immensely satisfying first novel details the lives of a group of Oberlin graduates whose ambitions and friendships threaten to unravel as they chase their dreams, shed their youth, and build their lives in Brooklyn during the late 1990s and the turn of the twenty-first century.

There's Lil, a would-be scholar whose marriage to an egotistical writer initially brings the group back together (and ultimately drives it apart); Beth, who struggles to let go of her old beau Dave, a onetime piano prodigy trapped by his own insecurity; Emily, an actor perpetually on the verge of success -- and starvation -- who grapples with her jealousy of Tal, whose acting career has taken off. At the center of their orbit is wry, charismatic Sadie Peregrine, who coolly observes her friends' mistakes but can't quite manage to avoid making her own. As they begin their careers, marry, and have children, they must navigate the shifting dynamics of their friendships and of the world around them.

Set against the backdrop of the vast economic and political changes of the era -- from the decadent age of dot-com millionaires to the sobering post-September 2001 landscape -- Smith Rakoff's deeply affecting characters and incisive social commentary are reminiscent of the great Victorian novels. This brilliant and ambitious debut captures a generation and heralds the arrival of a bold and important new writer.

Read More Show Less
  • A Fortunate Age
    A Fortunate Age  

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Rakoff's debut novel is a ponderous, meandering and nostalgic portrait of a postcollegiate group of Gen-Xers awkwardly navigating weddings, pregnancies, betrayals and funerals in pre- and post-9/11 New York City. At the center of the group is Sadie Peregrine, a rising book editor who is having trouble reconciling her personal and professional ambitions. Rounding out her circle is Lil, a depressed and flailing scholar; Emily, a starving actress; Tal, a successful actor; Beth, a would-be English prof; and Dave, an enigmatic musician and Beth's ex-boyfriend. The writing is episodic and relies heavily on exposition, and many character interactions and plot developments occur off the page and are referred to only indirectly. At her best, Rakoff offers a carefully studied glimpse into her characters' minds. Too often, though, the large cast and the hopscotch chronology come at the expense of narrative tension, of which there isn't much. Thirty-somethings looking back wistfully on their 20s and their struggles with the vicissitudes of adulthood might get a bang out of this. (Apr.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Rakoff's first novel is unabashedly influenced by Mary McCarthy's The Group, and though it doesn't reach those heights, it's an entertaining, updated look at artistic-minded young people progressing toward adulthood in New York. Where McCarthy focused on a group of new Vassar graduates, Rakoff's characters are alumni of Oberlin, a liberal bastion that the friends generally look upon favorably but were also quite ready to leave after four years. The novel opens with the surprise announcement of a wedding engagement between Tuck and Lil. The engagement party allows the reader to become acquainted with all of the friends and serves as somewhat of an official kick-off to actual adulthood for them. Rakoff then formulaically uses the narrative to take turns with each friend in order to place equal importance on all of them, despite their various levels of likability. As they experience marriage, children, dot-com busts, infidelities, alcohol abuse, personal tragedies, professional successes, and other common experiences of twentysomethings in the mid-1990s, Rakoff objectively and deftly chronicles all of it despite her personal connections. Recommended for most fiction collections.
—Kevin Greczek

From the Publisher
“The long-awaited book that perfectly captures the '90s, that time of social and financial excess that set the stage for the current economic collapse.”
— NPR.org

“An absorbing, if at times sprawling, story of a group of idealistic friends coming of age in the big city.”
The Boston Globe

“Superb, acutely insightful… a modern-day version of Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence"
— TheRumpus.net

“An expansive and elegantly executed time capsule of the dot.com generation finding its feet during a critical moment in history.”
New York Daily News

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416590774
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • Publication date: 4/7/2009
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Joanna Smith Rakoff

Joanna Smith Rakoff has written for The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Los Angeles Times, Newsday, Vogue, O: The Oprah Magazine, and other publications. She holds a B.A. from Oberlin College; an M.A. from University College, London; and an M.F.A. from Columbia University. She lives in New York with her husband and son.

Biography

Joanna Smith Rakoff has written for The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Los Angeles Times, Newsday, Vogue, O: The Oprah Magazine, and other publications. Her poetry has appeared in journals such as The Paris Review, The Kenyon Review, Western Humanities Review, and Arts & Letters, and her personal essays have appeared in such anthologies as How to Spell Chanukah and If You Really Want to Hear About It: Writers on J.D. Salinger. She has been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony. She holds a B.A. from Oberlin College, an M.A. from University College, London, and an M.F.A. from Columbia University. She lives in New York with her husband and son.

Biography courtesy of Simon & Schuster

Good To Know

Some interesting outtakes from our interview with Joanna Smith Rakoff:
"My first real job was at a grand, storied literary agency, Harold Ober Associates, where I was the assistant to the president, a grand, storied lady named Phyllis Westberg, who was wonderful to me—if a bit scary, at times—and gave me more responsibilities than, perhaps, she should have, which really allowed me to learn about the publishing industry and literary culture, in general. I'd just dropped out of a Ph.D. program and still thought, rather pompously, of myself as a scholar, which made Ober a great place to work, as they were primarily known, at that time, for the estates they represented: Dylan Thomas, Langston Hughes, Agatha Christie, Ross MacDonald, Anna Kavan, and tons of others. But perhaps the most interesting and strange part of my job was answering J. D. Salinger's fan mail. Salinger, a longtime client of the agency, received tons of mail, as you can imagine, much of it very personal and strange, and much of it from teenagers who had formed a sort of hysterical identification with Holden Caulfield. I was supposed to send a form letter to each and every Salinger fan, but over my time at Ober I began personalizing letters and—it's bizarre to think about it now!—entered into a correspondence with a few of them. I actually still have some of my favorite letters from that time (which are supposed to be filed away somewhere in the Ober archives…)."

"I have an almost-four-year-old son, Coleman, and when not writing I spend most of my time with him, reading books or drawing or running around the park behind our apartment building. I finished the first draft of A Fortunate Age just before giving birth to him and began the process of revising it when he was about a month old. So, every weekend, I'd literally hand the baby over to my husband, Evan, then run to the local coffee shop and write for as long as I could, until I got the call saying it was time to come home and feed the baby. It was a grueling, but exhilarating time. And there were days, especially when Coleman was older, when it was very hard for me to leave him (and Evan, too); so hard that I'd sometimes burst into tears, certain that I was causing Cole some irrevocable damage. On such days, Evan, whose mother always dreamed of being a writer (but never completed anything), would say to me, 'You'll be doing him more damage if you don't finish this novel.' And he was, most definitely, correct."

"Rather like my character, Sadie Peregrine, I live in an inherited apartment on Manhattan's Lower East Side. In my case, the apartment belonged to my grandmother. (Sadie's inherited hers from a great aunt; and, in fact, I was offered an aunt's apartment, a few years back, but one apartment seemed enough...) I inherited the place when I was quite young, 26, and seriously impoverished. All of my friends were living in tiny, horrible apartments in the East Village or various parts of Brooklyn or Queens—as was I!—and it was very strange to all of a sudden be in Manhattan, in this kind of large, grown-up apartment, surrounded by all of my grandmother's things (I quickly donated a bunch of stuff, as the alternative was to go insane; and, if you can believe it, my father still gives me a hard time about getting rid of some ancient, chipped child's bedroom set—which, no, hadn't even belonged to him! I think it was—and is—just hard for my father to view the apartment as mine, rather than his mother's, and to allow me to actually get rid of a thing or two. My mother, meanwhile, was encouraging me to knock down all the walls and make the place "clean and modern," which my husband and I—ten years after moving in—having finally gotten around to doing (in part, out of necessity; the place was falling down around us)."

"I hope this doesn't sound insane, but I don't have very many hobbies. I'm a bit boring. My life, since childhood, has been very much centered around reading and writing. There is, literally, nothing I'd rather do than lie on the couch, reading a novel. And as a child—maybe even now—the worlds I enter when I read are as real to me as the actual world around me.

That said, I love going to the movies. My husband and I tend to go once a week; and I often take my son to matinees, much as my father took me, from an early age, every Thursday afternoon. I often fantasize about making—that is writing and directing—a film, but am not sure I have the courage to navigate that particular industry. But we will see.

Otherwise, I do a lot of yoga—being constitutionally unable to participate in team sports and having a deep aversion to gyms—go running in East River Park, ice skate at Wollman Rink, and love to cook and, even more, to bake. And before having Coleman we used to have huge dinner parties. But in recent years, between Coleman and writing, I haven't had the strength to entertain as much. Instead I've been teaching Coleman to cook, which is more fun than I ever could have imagined.

Read More Show Less
    1. Hometown:
      New York, NY
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 8, 1972
    2. Place of Birth:
      Suffern, NY, USA
    1. Education:
      B.A., English, Oberlin College. 1994; M.A., English, University College, London. 1995; M.F.A., Columbia University, 1999
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 2.5
( 69 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(3)

4 Star

(6)

3 Star

(23)

2 Star

(26)

1 Star

(11)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 69 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2009

    A bunch of im-mature people

    I didn't really like this book or any of the characters in it. I just couldn't relate to the story or any of the characters and what happened to them. The writing was good though as far as style.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 3, 2009

    Mediocre

    This episodic novel traces the lives of a group of friends during the ten years or so after they graduate from Oberlin. The volume of the characters was sometimes disorienting; the four women friends are followed in detail, with somewhat less information about their male friends Dave and Tal. To me, though, the bigger problem is the nearly relentless focus on life¿s problems¿but without developing any kind of larger plot. Their jobs are problematic, their friends don¿t understand. The only good things that happen to the characters involve getting married and having babies (now THERE¿S a startling plot line for women in their late twenties and early thirties), but these simply bring their own new sets of problems. I kept reading because the characters are, honestly, compelling (though they seem a bit two-dimensional, made of nothing but their careers and their love lives¿none of them seemed to have any other interests or hobbies), but after I was finished, I wasn¿t quite sure what I¿d gotten from the book. It does not end on any kind of hopeful note. In short, it is a novel that relates to the world in a fundamentally different way than I do.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Unfortunate Read

    The book follows a group of friends from Oberlin through the morass of their daily lives, by looking at the group of friends one at a time, one chapter at a time. <BR/><BR/>The book is well-written, hence my 3-star rating, and I'm sure it has an audience but I'm not it. I pretty much hated every single character and was annoyed with how they related to one another within the group. I had to force myself to finish it. I am not a fan of the whiny, misunderstood, lazy Gen X-er spirit portrayed here. As a Gen-Xer myself, I feel like I know these people and their ilk and they annoy me in real life. Why would I want to read about them too? It did not help the book's cause for me. <BR/><BR/>I also had a problem with this author's portrayal of New York as one of the characters in the book. I think it is fine to do that if you make the city relevant for everyone. I live in Chicago, so even though it took me a while to catch on to what she was saying about a particular area, eventually I did identify with the neighborhoods the author describes as similar to some from here (even if I don't know the specific New York area she might be talking about). But, it annoyed me to think that people outside of cities would be at a loss to "get" a whole character in the book, even if that character is a city. <BR/><BR/>I won't be recommending this to anyone.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    2 stars is generous

    I wanted to like this book, it was a quick read and it takes place in NYC, a city full of character. However, the same can not be said for Ms Rakoff's book. The characters are whiny, the plot is thin. I was unsure if the author was trying to write a serious novel or chick-lit. One character that I liked has stuggled through adversity and just when it's getting interesting, she is "rescued" in the form of a marriage proposal from a doctor she barely knows. And then lives happily ever after. This seemed to be a theme in the novel.<BR/>The story focuses on one character at a time but again, once it gets interesting, fast forward and their lives are fine. A very convoluted plot that can't find direction.<BR/>I would not recommend this book to anyone. I do think the author has some potential but she has not reached it yet. I hope her next work is more focused and more interesting.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 31, 2009

    An Ambitious First Novel

    In ¿A Fortunate Age,¿ Joanna Smith Rakoff has tackled an ambitious project. There are many positives about this first novel. The writing is good. Memorable passages draw the reader. She tells us this novel is a tribute to Mary McCarthy's, ¿The Group.¿ In fact, it is an updated group, even men are added. <BR/><BR/>Personally, I found the book hard to read. Emily, the character that drew me, didn't appear alone until nearly the end of the book. The other characters seemed self-centered and, frankly, not very interesting. Perhaps this is because we are drawn to characters who win out after a long struggle. <BR/><BR/>The main drawback for me was that the book is very ethnic. I'm sure if I'd attended Oberlin, or tried to make it in New York city, I'd be more responsive to the characters. Since neither of these apply, and I have avoided going to New York City even to visit my children, the book didn't entice me. <BR/><BR/>I hope to see more of Joanna's work in the future. She's obviously a talented writer. If she had a more tightly woven plot, I think she would be exceptional.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 28, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Disappointed

    "A Fortunate Age" by Joanna Smith Rakoff is the story of six 20 somethings, starting out in New York. It is set in the late 90s and turn of the century, and follows five Oberlin graduates as they shed their youth and start their lives.<BR/>I found that the characters were difficult to follow and I didn't feel that the characters were fully developed. The author focuses each chapter on one character but doesn't go into enough depth in any of them to make me care about them. Smith Rakoff uses flashbacks to try to fill in some of the gaps, but instead of helping, I feel it makes it difficult to keep everyone's story straight. None of the characters in this first novel by Smith Rakoff, is memorable. <BR/>The author used language that tries to emulate that of Edith Wharton or Charles Dickens and is used to try to fill the depth of this book. Not a successful endeavor. If there was a plot, I couldn't find it. I finished the book only because I hoped that the next chapter would be better. Instead, I was disappointed and no less confused.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 28, 2009

    Not a Bad First Effort, But Not Quite My Favorite

    Maybe it's because I've read quite a number of contemporary novels that seem to run in the vein of this one that I found the theme to be one that's been overdone. Namely, the author chronicles a group of young people as they deal with relationships, careers, and the general angst that is life as we enter adulthood. This is not the kind of book to read if you're looking for an escapist experience. Too much downer realism with all its attendant confusion, depression, betrayals, etc. While a bit verbose in my opinion, the style of writing was not bad at all. I'd like to see what the author could do if she narrowed her focus, concentrating on only a few characters/issues and dealing with something more confined than a sprawling novel.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2009

    Unfortunate Review

    I have been procrastinating on writing a review of the book.<BR/><BR/>Rakoff tries too hard, in my opinion to give the characters depth, and she becomes extremely wordy (which is not the same as being descriptive). For me, the book wasn¿t stimulating, didn¿t grab me to want to continue on. Each chapter is primarily delegated to one of the characters in the book.<BR/><BR/>Judaism is a subtle and underlying issue, not overtly depicted, yet the reader knows it is a force in the lives of the characters. <BR/><BR/>Within that format, I found the book to be a labor to read. The chapters are choppy, almost leaving the reader hanging at the end of each one, with no clarity. They end almost abruptly, without any defining conclusion. <BR/><BR/>I am an avid reader of non-fiction and fiction. It is possible that the fact that I am older left me feeling unsympathetic and not gratified. I couldn¿t wait to finish it, which for me is unusual.<BR/><BR/>In my opinion Rakoff needs to work harder in blending her characters within chapters of cohesion. She definitely made a decent first effort. Unfortunately, A Fortunate Age, by Joanna Smith Rakoff, did not appeal to me.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 28, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Coming of Age in the 90s

    A Fortunate Age by Joanna Smith Rakoff is the story of six highly educated 20 somethings, starting out in New York. It is set in the late 90s and early part of 21st century and follows five Oberlin graduates as they start their lives, families, and careers.<BR/><BR/>All of the characters come from comfortable families and seem not to care about monetary success. The book starts with Lil's wedding and we are introduced to her family, and her best friends from college; Beth, Sadie, Emily, Tal, and Dave.<BR/><BR/>The book is divided into sections and each section is about one of the main characters. While the story starts out slowly, there were many times when I couldn't put the book down. While each of the characters were interesting in their own right, I definitely liked two more than the rest. I would have liked to get to know each of the characters better to know where they were coming from and where they were going to end up.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 23, 2008

    "St. Elmo's Fire" lives

    Overall I was disappointed. Reading this book became an exercise and actually put me in a lousy mood. The characters were so flawed I found them unlikable and at times, barely tolerable. The writing style seemed pretentious and I felt the author was demonstrating the use of an English degree. Out of curiosity I started counting the hyphens and dashes interrupting each character's thoughts and the narrative. I started on page 306 and quit after page 323. In those 18 pages the author used that device 30 times. I noticed because it distracted me from reading. And the ending really disappointed me. There wasn't a single resolution of anything. It just stopped. <BR/><BR/>I find a book irritating when possible story lines are introduced but not expanded. Don't start an idea that won't go anywhere. One of the "Advance Praise" comments said this novel was "A wonderful, funny, and spot-on portrait..." I couldn't find the humor anywhere; just the sadness of college graduates who find the world isn't half as impressed with them as they thought it should be. <BR/><BR/>Could I have written this book? No way! Kudos to Ms. Smith Rakoff for completing her first book (unlike Tuck). I might not be the correct audience for her writing. But it did smack too much of "St. Elmo's Fire" and I didn't like that movie either.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 21, 2009

    Exciting and disturbing!

    I did not read Mary McCarthy's book; however, I found this novel kept mementally on edge the entire time. It was well written, suspenseful and did not drag. Without giving away the ending, let's just say it was a surprise!
    There is one theme I found disturbing and that is that the female characters in relationships were more accomplished than their male counterparts. It took some of them quite a bit of time to realize that some of their loves were not worthy of them!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Nostalgic and Character Driven

    A Fortunate Age by Joanna Smith Rakoff, approaches a group of post-graduate Gen-Xers as they begin their adult lives tackling friendship, coupling, love and sex. Rackoff is a tactical author who employs fresh methods of story telling to establish excitement and interest. For example, instead of getting a narrative of events central to the story, we get character reactions to some of these events, as the group tries to relate major events to how they may affect their own lives. To accomplish this we get a lost of tangents and back story which then clarifies character's motive and thought processes. Huge plot developments are not even mentioned-only inferred later in the story. Such devices combine ensuring a dramatic story arc for all of the characters, and a book that reads as more of complex study of characters then a typical novel. Readers will literally climb into Rakoff's group and the minds of its members. Overall, Rakoff delivers a strong and highly literary debut. The layered examination of New York culture during the time period reads like a modernized Wharton.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 16, 2009

    Sophisticated,Edgy

    Iwas drawn to the Book from the first page.The Players were very real to me,and every page brought back memories,good and sad,but throughly realistic ,Joanne captured the culture extremly well..

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 2, 2009

    Interesting but Missing Something

    I read this book as part of the First Look Club. I found the book interesting, especially because I could relate to the characters. It was hard adjusting to life after college. I really liked the characters and it was interesting to watch them develop but I would have liked to have see the characters interact more. The author writes sections from each characters point of view but you really don't get much input from them again after their section is finished. I would also have liked to have gotten to see what some of the other secondary characterst thought or felt. Especially the husbands.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 17, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Disappointing as a book club choice

    A Fortunate Age tells the story of a group of Oberlin grads and their seeming inability to grow up beyond their college years. While I looked forward to reading this novel due my proximity to Oberlin and the time period in which it was set, I was greatly disappointed. I never felt very engaged in the characters and seldom cared in their outcomes. Maybe this came from the feeling that they were mostly rich, spoiled brats? Given that the premise was a strong one, I believe much more character and plot development could have been done and would have made this a more engaging read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 9, 2009

    A Fortunate Age

    I recently finished ¿A Fortunate Age¿ by Joanna Smith Rakoff. This book follows a handful of characters from after college into their early thirties. Each character has a chapter and the chapter shares aspects from their early family life, their introduction and ties to the group along with their personal insights on life, love and others in the group. As the book progresses the individuals lives change and each character takes on a ¿calling¿ unique to their current status in society and personal goals. Their lives continue to intersect due to random events along with planned functions, as the pages turn. <BR/>Overall this novel is a collection of individual stories that when tied together make up a larger story. A story about growing up, finding ourselves, being true to ourselves and about what friends bring and take from relationships. I would recommend this book to anyone who just wants to escape from their daily functions into a world that is not so much unlike their own, yet is not their own. If you think of the sitcom ¿Friends¿ this book is along those lines yet with more depth into the individual characters.<BR/>I hope that Joanna is planning to make this book a part of many, for I find myself missing and wondering about these characters, long after I read the last page. To me that is mark of a great story!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 3, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Overflowing with potential

    Joanna Smith Rakoff has written a debut novel that reminds me of the great, sprawling novels of the nineteenth century that offer social critique and observation through their portrayals of a large cast of characters. I thought Rakoff's characters were, by in large, characters I could get behind (which is to say, although I did not love them all, I was glad to have met most of them). The real difficulty for me in reading this book was the plot, which I felt was very jumpy. I did not need everything spelled out, but I felt like a number of the strands of the plot were underdeveloped, and I had the strong sense that a number of scenes had been edited out. This book needed to be longer. Still, I found it to be an enjoyable and compelling read once I had gotten through the first few chapters. I will definitely keep an eye out for Ms. Rakoff's work in the future.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Ever wanted to know about what happened to your college friends?

    This book followed a group of college friends as they "grew up." Each major character in the book had their own few chapters during which you learned their story. However, instead of this making it easier to follow and gain an understanding of the characters, it made it difficult to see how each of the pieces fit together as well as discover the past about the group. It was a very easy novel to get through, and I enjoyed the premise. The writing was very good, and I look forward to reading another from this author.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2009

    Gets better as the story progresses

    I almost set aside this book after reading chapter one. I found it to be tedious and confusing. We are introduced to several characters in this chapter and the story line jumps around too much. <BR/>Once I made it past the first chapter, I found the story picked up and was interesting. I wanted to read on and find out more about the characters, their relationships and how they coped with changes in their lives.<BR/>The last few chapters were my favorites. I am happy I stuck with this one until the end.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Fortunate Age or an unfortnate age

    A Fortunate Age by Joanna Smith Rakoff is a book for those who grew up in the 90's and especially in New York. With that being said, there's still something in it for everyone. Each character made you think about someone you know or knew that "acted just the same." Don't let the beginning put you off. It's worth finishing.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 69 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)