Monday, 30 April 2018

The Awkward Age by Francesca Segal Review #MNBookClub

Francesca Segal's second novel, The Awkward Age is the latest Mumsnet Book Club read. Her first novel, The Innocents, won the Costa First Novel Award. I finished The Awkward Age a couple of days ago and have mixed feelings about the book. Julia is the primary character. She's a widow, who has unexpectedly fallen in love with a doctor called James. Everything seems to be going perfectly for Julia, except that her daughter Gwen and James' son Nathan are insistent on making each other's lives difficult. The book follows the ensuing chaos of attempting to combine two households where the children are teenagers.

The awkward age francesca segal

It is an incredibly emotive read and you can feel the tension on almost every page. I found the characters difficult to like, largely due to the fact that none of them behave particularly well. Gwen and Nathan are both at that self-obsessed teenage stage, where they cannot imagine that anyone other than themselves are right about anything. Gwen still struggles with the loss of her father and then with the arrival of James she feels she is losing her mother. I found Gwen to be quite spoilt and hard to like, in spite of the difficulties she goes through. Nathan is also rather egotistical, focused only on his career path and holds his self-worth in academia. James dotes on him, as Julia dotes on Gwen. I think fundamentally none of the characters are being honest about their feelings and the lack of honest and open communication between them is frustrating.

Reading The Awkward Age
  Whilst I enjoyed reading it and felt that the story flowed, it also made me feel incredibly uncomfortable at times. As a parent, it is so hard to imagine yourself in those circumstances. It's incredibly difficult to comprehend that you would allow two teenagers to behave as theirs do. Francesca Segal certainly has a flair for writing family interactions in all their messy glory. I found myself having to step away from the book at times as the confrontation within the book was making me feel uncomfortable. That's definitely a skill in writing, to make the pages come alive so passionately that you have to step away!

The Awkward Age

As parents, Julia and James will understandably make sacrifices for their children, but this novel questions how far that altruism can be tested. I did find that I could see what was coming with the plot, and was not surprised with the turns the story took. I enjoyed reading The Awkward Age, in spite of my frustrations with the characters. It was beautifully written and incredibly emotive. I would recommend it to others, just be prepared for an emotional rollercoaster of a read.

Disclosure: I was provided with this book free of charge for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.

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