What Could Have Been

Saturday, May 19, 2012

I'm writing the draft of this post in a class where we have discussions on Catch-22. There's a singular voice talking about Snowden and mortality, with a soft hum of whispered conversations. Outside, it's wet. Five minutes ago, it was pouring, with rain dripping on the grass, drowning the little blades of grass that just emerged from their long winter sleep. There's tiny drops of water on the edges of leaves, weighing them down, and ready to fall. It looks so frozen in time, like a photo that will never age. A thought comes to my head, "The sky after it rains is so beautiful..."

We're talking about "taking in on the lam" and we learn that it means escape. It's nice to escape isn't it? It's a romantic idea... Can you really escape from anything? Truly escape? You'll have to face whatever you're running from.

I used to think running away was brave. You'd have to have the courage to leave. To drop everything you're doing and start something new. To leave all that you know. I don't know what I believe anymore. Isn't running away a sign that you can't face it head on? I waver between bravery and cowardliness.

What attracted me to request was the cover and the idea of running away. 

With this on my mind, I opened the ARC for the novel, The Innocents (out June 2012), by Francesca Segal. I knew escape was going to be a prevailing theme, as the novel was a modern day Jewish version of The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. In both novels, there's a man who falls in love with a relative of his fiancee. What will they do?

The Age of Innocence  is elegantly transposed into a predominantly Jewish neighborhood in northwest England. It's wonderfully written and for a moment, I wish that I could write so eloquently. If only. 

That's a predominant theme in this book. If only he, Adam, wasn't engaged, he'd be able to run off with Ellie, his fiancee's cousin. If only... If only I knew what the various Jewish terms in the book meant, I'd be able to like this book a little bit more. Honestly, it's a wonderful book. It's a book that grows on you. Really. However, there's so many Jewish terms and I don't know any of them. I feel like if the Jewish terms were explained, I may have enjoyed it more. Then again, the novel is so entrenched in a Jewish town and it's inner workings that it might be tedious and repetitive to keep explaining. Considering that, Segal did a pretty good job writing the novel. 

In all, I'd recommend this book to fans of Edith Wharton. 


P.S I received my copy of Vogue (June issue) and there was a short excerpt from The Innocents included, as well as an article by Francesca Segal about herself (and her childhood growing up in a Jewish neighborhood where everyone knew everything about everyone). 

Photo Credits:
Rain Droplets on Window- rikonen.com
cover-Hyperion Voice (publisher)
field- via Flickr

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