Whenever I start a new book, I make predictions. Sometimes my predictions are right, but oftentimes they aren’t. In the case of A Certain Age, the guesses I made at the beginning of the book definitely shifted as Williams wove a story of intricate relationships and surprising twists.
The book revolves around two female characters during the roaring 1920’s in New York City. The story begins with Theresa, a mature high society woman, and she’s got a fun habit of talking to the reader directly as she shares her journey. She’s sophisticated, charming, guarded, and at times, a bit wicked. On the other hand, Sophie is on the brink of adulthood and she is passionate, innocent, and unguarded, the opposite of Theresa in many ways.
Sophie’s father is the inventor of a successful engineering solution that quickly propels their family into New York high society. With this new wealth comes the interest of many for Sophie’s hand in marriage, including Theresa’s brother Jay. Sophie soon realizes that the type of love she had always dreamt of (with a man that looks like Jay) might not be what she actually wants.
Each chapter begins with a quote from Helen Rowland, the journalist who wrote the column “Reflections of a Bachelor Girl” a century ago for the New York World. This was a perfect touch and I loved the sharp wit of this woman. Here are a few of my favorite quotes:
- “Never trust a husband too far, nor a bachelor too near.”
- “In love, somehow, a man’s heart is either exceeding the speed limit, or getting parked in the wrong place.”
- “The woman who appeals to a man’s vanity may stimulate him, the woman who appeals to his heart may attract him, but it is the woman who appeals to his imagination who gets him.”
- “And verily, a woman need know but one man well, in order to understand all men; whereas a man may know all woman and not understand one of them.”
- “When a girl marries, she exchanges the attentions of many men for the inattention of one.”
- “Marriage is like twirling a baton, turn handsprings, or eating with chopsticks. It looks easy until you try it.”
Delicious, consuming writing! I cannot recommend A Certain Age (or any of William’s books) enough.