Beatriz Williams’ new novel, A Certain Age, has all the makings of a juicy soap opera ripe with scandalous affairs, family loyalties and the secrets of the rich and fabulous. Set in the Roaring Twenties in the high-society circles of New York City, Williams’ story is a rousing, enjoyable read.
Theresa Marshall is at the top of her game, a wealthy socialite with the perfect life. Raised in one of the founding families of New York, she’s a mother, a wife and a sister and has impeccable social standing.
But, of course, Theresa has secrets. Her wealthy husband has been discreetly running through a slew of mistresses, even fathering a child within months of Theresa’s own son’s birth. Like many of their modern society friends, they have an arrangement that keeps up appearances and keeps them out of the gossip columns.
Theresa sees no reason why she can’t have her own fun and eventually finds herself in a comfortable affair of her own.
Beatriz Williams’ last novel, ‘Along the Infinite Sea,’ was published in November 2015.
Captain Octavian Rofrano is more than 20 years younger than Theresa. He has just returned from Europe, where he flew fighter planes in the war. He’s still trying to find his way back in society and accept that he was one of the lucky ones to come home in one piece.
Their paths cross at a late-night Fourth of July society party on Long Island. It’s lust at first site. Their affair runs hot and heavy, despite Octavian’s objections to adultery. Theresa is perfectly happy to just enjoy her Boyo, as she calls him, but he wants to marry her. He wants her to have his baby.
When, much to Theresa’s surprise, her partying bachelor brother comes to her with news that he’s found the love of his life, she’s suspicious. She distracts Octavian by asking him to investigate her brother’s young lady and her newly wealthy father.
Sophie Fortescue is 19 and motherless. Her father is an inventor who has recently made a fortune patenting his projects.
As any good saga goes, loyalties are tested and relationships are threatened. Even after Sophie has accepted Theresa’s brother’s proposal, she finds herself falling for Octavian. Although he’s supposed to be working to reassure Theresa, he can’t ignore his attraction to Sophie. He feels a connection to her that has nothing to do with what’s happening in the present. He discovers they share a connection from the past that takes their relationship to a whole other level.
The story spans Fifth Avenue to the backroom speakeasies. Williams’ historic details and detailed descriptions only add to the decadence.
Theresa sees what’s developing between her boy and Sophie, but she’s not going to step aside. She realizes that she’s actually fallen in love with Octavian, and she’s not giving him up. A love triangle always has a loser, and Theresa determines to make sure she’s not it.
She manipulates Octavian, her brother and even Sophie in her means to an end.
It isn’t until a decades-old Fortescue family secret is revealed that all bets are off.
Williams weaves all the characters into an intriguing web. You won’t know who to root for because they’re all so imperfect and flawed. There are those surprising soap opera twists, and there is plenty of sex.
The story spans Fifth Avenue to the backroom speakeasies. Williams’ historic details and detailed descriptions only add to the decadence. New money, old money and intrigue make for a lot of lively fun.
A Certain Age
☆☆☆ (out of five)
- By Beatriz Williams
- William Morrow, $26.99