Murakami Sale
 
 

Recently Viewed clear list


The Powell's Playlist | August 6, 2014

Graham Joyce: IMG The Powell’s Playlist: Graham Joyce



The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit is set on the English coast in the hot summer of 1976, so the music in this playlist is pretty much all from the... Continue »
  1. $17.47 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

spacer

This item may be
out of stock.

Click on the button below to search for this title in other formats.


Check for Availability
Add to Wishlist

A Fortunate Age

A Fortunate Age Cover

 

Staff Pick

Joanna Smith Rakoff's first novel chronicles the sometimes ludicrous, often moving, and maddeningly funny adventures of a gifted group of twentysomething friends living in New York City just after college graduation. Combining empathy and insight with cockeyed details of development, Rakoff tells the story of their marriages, children, and the success (or failure) of their respective artwork.  A portrait of a generation, A Fortunate Age is a delight.
Recommended by Jill Owens, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

Review:

"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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Joanna Smith Rakoff has cast a brilliant and glittering spell with this fierce debut. Her social observations are not only spot-on but often wickedly funny... She has captured both a generation and a landscape, and I'm still marveling at how she managed to pull off this page-turning cocktail of intelligence and desire." Joanna Hershon, author of The German Bride

Review:

"A wonderful, funny and spot-on portrait of my clumsy generation that brings to mind such hallmarks as Mary McCarthy's The Group, Jay McInerney's Brightness Falls, and Claire Messud's The Emperor's Children." Gary Shteyngart, author of Absurdistan and The Russian Debutante's Handbook

Review:

"Rakoff's mesmerizing debut opens with a wedding and closes with a funeral. In between, the novel provides a pitch perfect portrait of the generation that came of age in the 1990s. If this smart, thoroughly absorbing novel recalls The Group, it also recalls the seminal work of Anne Beattie in the seventies and Jay McInerney in the eighties. Like them, Rakoff captures a certain time and place with heartbreaking clarity." Booklist (starred)

Review:

"I'm in awe: at the assurance of Joanna Smith Rakoff's writing, the richness of her language, and the enthralling grip of this story. I'm excited the way you can only be excited by a big, thick novel you want to hibernate away with and not come out until you're done." Thisbe Nissen, author of The Good People of New York and Osprey Island

Review:

"An entertaining, updated look at artistic-minded young people progressing toward adulthood in New York. As they experience marriage, children, dot-com busts, infidelities, alcohol abuse, personal tragedies, professional successes, and other common experiences of twenty-somethings in the mid-1990s, Rakoff objectively and deftly chronicles all of it." Library Journal

About the Author

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.

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

katknit, January 30, 2009 (view all comments by katknit)
First there was McCarthy’s novel, The Group (1991). Next came thirtysomething on TV, and then ten years of Friends. A Fortunate Age closely resembles those earlier productions, with its cast of former college pals trying to make a place for themselves in the world, in NYC. It also begins with a wedding, which shocks them all, including the bride, after which the reader follows along as the members of the clique explore relationships, sex, and professions (well, jobs.)

Rakoff is a competent and fluent writer, but her plot leaves something to be desired. Rambling and disconnected, it is built upon chapters that focus on one of the group members at a time, and their interactions with friends both old and new. Mostly dialogue, with little genuine action, A Fortunate Age can leave the reader befuddled, trying to recall what came before. None of the characters is particularly engaging, all being rather shallow and whiny, the sense of entitlement that got each through college and grad school letting them down now that push has come to shove. More a series of short stories that share a few characters in common than a fully realized novel, this book has its moments, but in between the high points are nested long passages of narcisisstic ramblings, in which the friends wonder why they each feel so disconnected from it all. No one truly grows or changes, and the reader is left wondering, in the words of Burt Bacharach, “what’s it all about?”
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(8 of 15 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9781416590774
Subtitle:
A Novel
Publisher:
Scribner
Author:
Rakoff, Joanna Smith
Author:
Smith Rakoff, Joanna
Subject:
Friendship
Subject:
College graduates
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
New york (n.y.)
Publication Date:
20090407
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
416
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in
Age Level:
A Novel a Novel

Related Subjects


Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

A Fortunate Age
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 416 pages Scribner Book Company - English 9781416590774 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Joanna Smith Rakoff's first novel chronicles the sometimes ludicrous, often moving, and maddeningly funny adventures of a gifted group of twentysomething friends living in New York City just after college graduation. Combining empathy and insight with cockeyed details of development, Rakoff tells the story of their marriages, children, and the success (or failure) of their respective artwork.  A portrait of a generation, A Fortunate Age is a delight.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Joanna Smith Rakoff has cast a brilliant and glittering spell with this fierce debut. Her social observations are not only spot-on but often wickedly funny... She has captured both a generation and a landscape, and I'm still marveling at how she managed to pull off this page-turning cocktail of intelligence and desire."
"Review" by , "A wonderful, funny and spot-on portrait of my clumsy generation that brings to mind such hallmarks as Mary McCarthy's The Group, Jay McInerney's Brightness Falls, and Claire Messud's The Emperor's Children."
"Review" by , "Rakoff's mesmerizing debut opens with a wedding and closes with a funeral. In between, the novel provides a pitch perfect portrait of the generation that came of age in the 1990s. If this smart, thoroughly absorbing novel recalls The Group, it also recalls the seminal work of Anne Beattie in the seventies and Jay McInerney in the eighties. Like them, Rakoff captures a certain time and place with heartbreaking clarity." (starred)
"Review" by , "I'm in awe: at the assurance of Joanna Smith Rakoff's writing, the richness of her language, and the enthralling grip of this story. I'm excited the way you can only be excited by a big, thick novel you want to hibernate away with and not come out until you're done."
"Review" by , "An entertaining, updated look at artistic-minded young people progressing toward adulthood in New York. As they experience marriage, children, dot-com busts, infidelities, alcohol abuse, personal tragedies, professional successes, and other common experiences of twenty-somethings in the mid-1990s, Rakoff objectively and deftly chronicles all of it."
spacer
spacer
  • back to top
Follow us on...




Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.