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Loss of Innocence

Loss of Innocence

3.8 28
by Richard North Patterson

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Number one New York Times best-selling author Richard North Patterson, author of more than twenty novels, including Degree of Guilt and Silent Witness, returns with a sweeping family drama of dark secrets and individual awakenings.

Loss of Innocence, the second book in the Blaine trilogy, "in one life of the 1960s, symbolizes a movement


Number one New York Times best-selling author Richard North Patterson, author of more than twenty novels, including Degree of Guilt and Silent Witness, returns with a sweeping family drama of dark secrets and individual awakenings.

Loss of Innocence, the second book in the Blaine trilogy, "in one life of the 1960s, symbolizes a movement that keeps changing all our lives" (Gloria Steinem) in "a richly-layered look at the loss of innocence not only among his characters but that which America lost as a nation." (Martha's Vineyard Times) "An extraordinary novel--profound, emotionally involving and totally addictive," said actor and author Stephen Fry, "this may be Richard North Patterson's best work."

In 1968 America is in turmoil, engulfed in civil unrest and in the midst of an unpopular war. Yet for Whitney Dane--spending the summer of her twenty-first year on Martha's Vineyard, planning a September wedding to her handsome and equally privileged fiance--life could not be safer, nor the future more certain.

Educated at Wheaton, soon to be married, and the youngest daughter of the patrician Dane family, Whitney has everything she has ever wanted, and is everything her doting father, Wall Street titan Charles Dane, wants her to be: smart, sensible, predictable. Nonetheless, Whitney's nascent disquiet about society and her potential role in it is powerfully stimulated by the forces transforming the nation.

The Vineyard's still waters are disturbed by the appearance of Benjamin Blaine, an underprivileged, yet fiercely ambitious and charismatic figure who worked as an aide to the recently slain Bobby Kennedy. Ben's presence accelerates Whitney's growing intellectual independence, inspires her to question long-held truths about her family, and stirs her sexual curiosity. It also brings deep-rooted tensions within the Dane clan to a dangerous head. Soon, Whitney's future seems far less secure, and her ideal family far more human, than she ever could have suspected.

An acknowledged master of the courtroom thriller, Patterson's Blaine trilogy, a bold and surprising departure from his past novels, is a complex family drama pulsing with the tumult of the time and "dripping with summer diversions, youthful passion and ideals, class tensions, and familial disruptions." (Library Journal)

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Thriller author Patterson ventures into mainstream waters with mixed results in this follow-up to 2012’s Fall from Grace, the second entry in a projected trilogy. In June 1968, 21-year-old Whitney Dane, a child of privilege, is looking forward to her September wedding to Peter Brooks, her socially suitable college sweetheart, on Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., where her family has a summer house. Whitney anticipates having the picture-perfect marriage of her proper parents, but the times are a-changin’, and things do not go as planned. Early one late June morning, after a swim in the ocean, Whitney encounters Benjamin Blaine, a college dropout who grew up on the island and worked for Robert Kennedy’s presidential campaign. Readers will know that poor Whitney will never be the same after meeting Ben, whose “angular frame, taller than Peter’s, suggested litheness and grace even when still.” The plot meanders along without surprise until a few shockers are thrown in toward the end. The result resembles nothing so much as a minor John O’Hara book, concerned, as that author’s work usually was, with notions of class, personal and political change, and, most of all, heartbreak. First printing of 150,000. Agent: Cullen Stanley, Janklow & Nesbit Associates. (Oct.)
Kirkus Reviews
Patterson's (Fall from Grace, 2012, etc.) second effort in a planned trilogy continues his foray into personal drama and away from geopolitical intrigue and suspense. In this prequel to the first novel, linked by prologue and epilogue, the narrative dives into the angst and anger of one-percenters, focusing on the family Dane. Rich-girl Whitney Dane has graduated from Wheaton, and she's at the Dane summer home on Martha's Vineyard planning her September wedding to Peter Brooks, a from-the-right-kind-of-family Dartmouth graduate newly employed at her father's financial firm. It's June 1968, and so it's good that the senior Dane has the influence to secure for Peter a National Guard spot to keep him out of Vietnam. However, at the edge of Whitney's consciousness lingers a hazy doubt: Will she be satisfied as helpmate? Then young Benjamin Blaine, Vineyard native, returns home. Ben dropped out of Yale to work as a Bobby Kennedy gofer. Shattered by Kennedy's assassination, Ben's adrift and in peril of the draft. Whitney and Ben meet. Ben saves Whitney from drowning. To couch events in '60s vernacular, Ben raises Whitney's class consciousness. Ben then clashes with Peter and Dane senior. Loyalties are tested. Relationships fracture. Betrayals ensue. World turned upside down, Whitney reasons herself free of "the carelessness of privilege." Patterson name-drops--William Styron, Dustin Hoffmann, Richard Nixon--and mentions good things--"a snifter of Armagnac on the open-air porch--a 1923 Laberdolive from Gascony." Characters are clichéd, but Patterson's family drama thrives on the expected: Charles Dane, controlling, manipulative; Anne Dane, all tradition and pretense; Whitney's sister Janine, a fashion model trapped in addiction after a failed love affair; rich-girl Clarice, Whitney's lifelong friend, openness disguising an ugly secret; boy-in-a-man's-world Peter, attentive, thoughtful. Patterson writes a family saga of class and money, power and pretense, love and loyalty. Think The Thorn Birds or Rich Man, Poor Man among the Martha's Vineyard moneyed set.
From the Publisher
"Loss of Innocence will tell you more about the turbulent summer of 1968 than most history books will."—Providence Journal

"Wealthy, WASPY and protected, Whitney Dane lives a life of privilege under the seemingly benevolent patriarchy of her powerful father. At the family summer home on Martha's Vineyard, political violence and anti-war protests seem far away. But in the course of the season, cracks open in her closest relationships, exposing rot and darkness within and linking Whitney to the larger issues of race, class and corruption that roil the country. Richard North Patterson has created a richly textured romance, deftly set amid the seismic social shifts of 1968."—Geraldine Brooks, author of Caleb's Crossing

"Set in the summer and fall of a pivotal year in American history, 1968... Patterson's latest offers up an appealing family drama set against the backdrop of a radically tumultuous and influential time."—Kristine Huntley, Booklist

"Patterson's family drama thrives on the expected... Patterson writes a family saga of class and money, power and pretense, love and loyalty. Think The Thorn Birds or Rich Man, Poor Man among the Martha's Vineyard moneyed set."—.Â.Â.

"Like male novelists of the Nineteenth century, Richard North Patterson actually looks at the world through a woman's eyes. He tells us the story of a girl born into a derived identity, and her path toward who she is and what she wants. In one life of the 1960s, he symbolizes a movement that keeps changing all our lives."—Gloria Steinem, author of Revolution from Within

"At a time when the â??60s are often vilified, Richard North Patterson revisits that era in this terrific new novel and reminds us that it was a time of moral awakening. Set in 1968, Loss of Innocence tells the story of a young woman's discovery of the true meaning of freedom. Moving into new territory with this coming-of-age novel, Patterson is a great storyteller."—Carol Gilligan, author of Kyra and In Other Voices

"A title that is dripping with summer diversions, youthful passion and ideals, class tensions, and familial disruptions makes for wonderful reading whatever the season."—Library Journal (starred)

"A snapshot of America at a pivotal moment in history, and a beautifully written coming-of-age novel."—Lady Antonia Fraser, author of The Six Wives of Henry VIII and Must You Go?

"Loss of Innocence, second of a projected trilogy, is the compelling account of a family's collapse amid multiple betrayals in the bloody year 1968. The book moves at high velocity, is grandly plotted with a crescendo of an ending. This is Richard North Patterson at the top of his game."—Ward Just, author of An Unfinished Season and Rodin's Debutante

"Loss of Innocence is an extraordinary novel--profound, emotionally involving and totally addictive. This may be Richard North Patterson's best work: surprising and different, yet with the same ability to penetrate the minds of others--especially women, which is a rare gift."—Stephen Fry, The Fry Chronicles

"Loss of Innocence is a stunning tour de force by one of my favorite novelists. This coming-of-age story electrifies with the authenticity of the Sixties--the sex, politics, language, mores and music. And Martha's Vineyard, with its heartbreaking beauty, is the ideal setting for an engrossing drama of a so-called perfect family riven by its secrets. Richard North Patterson, always brilliant, is better than ever."—Linda Fairstein, author of The Deadhouse

Library Journal
Whitney Dane, an accomplished novelist at the age of 65, recalls her tumultuous summer of 1968. After graduating from a private all-girls college, she becomes happily engaged to the likable and very suitable Peter Brooks and retreats to the Dane family home on Martha's Vineyard to while away the summer with her best friend, Clarice, and to plan her September wedding. Life is uncomplicated and idyllically idle until one day while visiting her favorite secluded beach she is approached by a handsome young local man, Benjamin Blaine. She learns that Ben escaped a hardscrabble life through a Yale scholarship but then left college to serve as Robert Kennedy's personal aide on that fatal presidential campaign. Ben's fiery intelligence, deep sadness, and capable ways captivate Whitney and incite parental concern. Her continuing exchanges with him and their resulting consequences challenge her to question her goals and her life. VERDICT Patterson's (Fall from Grace; Degree of Guilt) latest novel is a coming-of-age story set amongst the privileged classes of Martha's Vineyard in the shadow of the turbulent political summer of 1968. A title that is dripping with summer diversions, youthful passion and ideals, class tensions, and familial disruptions makes for wonderful reading whatever the season. [Patterson was a panelist on the "Getting Reacquainted with Fiction" panel at LJ's Day of Dialog program.—Ed.]—Sheila M. Riley, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, DC

Product Details

Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt

The day was bright and clear, and a headwind stirred his curly hair; absorbed in sailing, Ben barely seemed aware of Whitney sitting near the stern. While she did not mind the quiet, it felt as though he was playing the role of her indifferent crew. Then he finally spoke. “I wonder how many more times I’ll get to do this.”

“Because of the draft?”

Ben kept scanning the water. “Because of the war,” he said harshly. “What a pointless death that would be.”

Uneasy, Whitney thought of Peter’s safe haven in the National Guard. “You don’t believe we’re the firewall against Communism?”

His derisive smile came and went. “If you were some Vietnamese peasant, would you want to be ruled by a bunch of crooks and toadies? To win this war, we’d have to pave the entire country, then stay there for fifty years. And if we lose, what does that mean to us? That the Vietnamese are going to paddle thousand of miles across the Pacific to occupy San Francisco?”

Whitney had wondered, too. She chose to say nothing more.

The day grew muggy. Running before the wind, Ben headed toward Tarpaulin Cove, the shelter on an island little more than a sand spit. Hand on the tiller, he seemed more relaxed, his brain and sinews attuned to each shift in the breeze. It was not until they eased into the cove that Ben spoke to her again. “I brought an igloo filled with sandwiches and drinks. Think the two of us can swim it to the beach?”


Stripping down to her swimsuit, Whitney climbed down the rope ladder and began dogpaddling in the cool, invigorating water. Ben peeled off his T-shirt and dove in with the cooler, his sinewy torso glistening in the sun and water. Together, they floated it toward the shore, each paddling with one arm. At length, somewhat winded, they sat on the beach as the surf lapped at their feet. The Vineyard was barely visible; they had come a fair distance, Whitney realized, and yet the trip seemed to have swallowed time. This must be what sailing did for him.

For a time Whitney contented herself, as he did, with eating sandwiches and sipping a cool beer. Curious, she asked, “Is the war why you worked for Bobby?”

Meet the Author

Richard North Patterson is the author of twenty bestselling novels, including Garden of Eden, Exile, Degree of Guilt, and Silent Witness. He has appeared on Good Morning America, Hardball, and The CBS Morning Show, and his articles on politics, literature, and law have been published inThe London Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, and San Jose Mercury News. He lives in Martha's Vineyard, Cabo San Lucas, and San Francisco with his wife, Dr. Nancy Clair.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Loss of Innocence 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Several points: First, I was stunned by the high number of "typos!" I'd guess more than 20 of them. There is even a final one in the author's acknowledgement! But I certainly enjoyed the story. I'd forgotten the significance of the last name of the main character ("Blaine"). And I knew the author was a part-time resident of Martha's Vineyard. So it wasn't until his "Acknowledgement" that I realized that this book was actually the "precursor" of last year's book "Fall From Grace." How delightful!! So I immediately re-read last year's book and now look forward to the concluding book next year.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
1968 was a watershed year and the story of that summer told through the eyes of a young woman preparing for her September wedding is brilliant. To read this book is to relive a very important time in history.
MaryGramlich More than 1 year ago
The summer of 1968 was a time for turbulent change in men, women, and the world we all lived in.  High profile political assassinations, back door dealings, and the war no one wanted to fight for in Vietnam.  For Whitney the turmoil is all background noise at first as she prepares for the wedding of her lifetime and goes about conducting daily exploits in her privileged life. When Whitney comes upon Ben a man her age with so much more life experience the perfect path Whitney had chosen becomes riddled with pot holes.  Ben is recovering from the turmoil created when Bobby Kennedy was murdered and the fact that he is about to be deployed to war.  He is cynical about life, bitter about his past, and determined not to live the life that everyone expects.  All this resonates with Whitney as she has always been the good girl doing everything that is expected of her but thinking that there has to be more than being someone’s wife and mother.  Everyone warns Whitney that Ben is corrupting her way of thinking clearly including her fiancé but the realization that you are your own woman capable of making your own choices is not scary but liberating. For Whitney it is not Ben that forces her to see life through different eyes but her own family that is not the perfect home everyone thought it to be.  If her parent’s marriage is not the standard for her achievement perhaps it is time to find something else to go after and try to realize her own dreams which are attainable. Fabulous read about a time that seems so far away but one we are living over and over again.
Doc_Writer_101 More than 1 year ago
This was a well-written, well-crafted story. It was interesting throughout, but my comments are not about the story. The only flaw I saw in this book was the editing. There were a half-dozen spelling or word usage mistakes that were clearly the work of a computerized spell checker. There were others that simply got by the final proofreaders. This is not what I expected from Patterson. But ignore those and enjoy the wonderful story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very well-written, captivating, but some of the family details are hard to follow; try to ignore the typos if you can.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this 1968 story of Martha Vineyard residents, politics, and a young woman of the wealthy class coming of age. I did not realize it was part of a triology (the 2nd). I would consider it a summer beach read. An easy read that holds your attention.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
NookReaderLinda More than 1 year ago
I didn't realize this was the 2nd in a trilogy. The prologue was a bit confusing, wasn't sure who the characters were.. After reading the book, I went back and reread the prologue, which made more sense then. It was interesting reading about 1968 as I still remember that year well (the year I was married). I did like the characters of Whitney and Ben. I haven't read any of Patterson's previous novels. I might be more inclined to read his earlier ones. Don't think I will read the other 2 in this series.
HLMac64 More than 1 year ago
Not what I expected from Richard North Patterson, but I did enjoy it. I would have liked a little more out of the ending, but I still enjoyed the book just the same.
lindasue43 More than 1 year ago
Well written and evocative of the 60s. Patterson captured the confusion in gender and class roles during that turbulent time. I wish he had clarified the modern day characters as well as he did with the flashbacks.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nice well written story.  Enjoyed the Vineyard
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
good book and sequel good and another to come - a good read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
not up to earlier standards. this is a woman's book. ioprefer his thrillers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
JacksonvilleReader More than 1 year ago
I'm still uncertain about this latest book by RNP. I've read all his books and this one just doesn't seem like his style. After a few chapters I was tired of Whitney, her family and friends. I don't know why this book wasn't the first of the trilogy, introducing the characters for Fall From Grace". Just seems backwards. The main reason I'm undecided about the book is that the story was somewhat interesting, but not up to the type of books I've enjoyed by RNP. It was borderline trashy romance novel, not suspense, legal thrillers RNP has written in the past. I'll add RNP's books to the "buy when they hit the bargain table" list rather than when first published.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Super awsoe nivel with desedsedsedzedsedddefd vedswdrjdjddskskskskskssssskssisksdjddkksksddddkdkdkdkd
Anonymous More than 1 year ago