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Extended Audio Sample A Fortunate Age Audiobook, by Joanna Smith Rakoff Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (589 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Joanna Smith Rakoff Narrator: Christina Moore Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: June 2016 ISBN: 9781440718151
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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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “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 Emporer’s Children.”

    Gary Shteyngart, New York Times bestselling author

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bonnie Y | 2/20/2014

    " Fun reading about how present day Oberlin students fare in NY (I graduated in the 60's) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kasey | 2/19/2014

    " Another book about a group of 20 (and then 30) somethings living in New York, this reminded me so strongly of Claire Messud's The Emperor's Children, though A Fortunate Age isn't quite as good. But it's still smart and engaging; I literally didn't want to put it down and hauled it around with me everywhere, even though it's quite heavy, while I was reading it. It is also that rare combination of very real, believable characters plus great plot plus intelligent and beautiful writing. I'm wondering now if I didn't give it a 5 just because I don't think it's as good as The Emperor's Children, which doesn't seem fair. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Megan | 2/19/2014

    " A group of recent Oberlin grads try to make their way as New Yorkin' adults in this initially engaging, ultimately frustrating novel. Rakoff can be a powerfully incisive writer, but her talent gets lost in an overly long, melodramatic book. There are too many characters, and most are basically indistinguishable save for their use of "like." "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Amber | 2/10/2014

    " BN First Look book club "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Penny | 2/6/2014

    " This was a pretty quick read...starts with a group of university students attending their friend's wedding in the late 90s and then ends at that same friend's funeral six years later. I did like it - I can so totally see this as a movie..kind of like a St. Elmo's Fire kind of thing. I liked it BUT the ending was really bad. Just ended. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Allyson | 1/24/2014

    " A very intriguing style of character introduction and event revelation. She flips through years and events yet is able to weave the story together so that all characters are followed, more or less throughout their many life events and changes. I found the ending highly unsatisfying however, in fact would have preferred something else entirely. And there were a little too many cliches in the beginning, product placements, and lifestylings that seemed incongruous with her characters. I just finished reading it and am curious how the characters will sit in my memory as she very vividly brought most of them to active life. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kara | 1/17/2014

    " I am so obsessed with this novel that I recently had a dream about Rose Peregrine (kind of a secondary character, but a fabulous one, you'll see)! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Zoe | 12/28/2013

    " It follows The Group so closely, that parts of novel feel cramped and restricted. Otherwise, some keen observations on a generation, I just wish the author had given herself more leeway. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Abby | 12/19/2013

    " The characters are not compelling and the writing is digressive and rambling. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Julie Franki | 11/10/2013

    " I read this book hoping to find some existential exploration of my generation and socio-economic class, but all I got was cheesy soap-opera and whining. Ugh. I have no desire to relate to these characters, and this book is insufferable. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Beth | 6/20/2013

    " Whitney, you'll like this one :-) "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Carla | 5/7/2013

    " Got about 80 or so pages in and decided I didn't want to keep going...just didn't really pull me in. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John | 1/5/2012

    " This is an advanced readers copy and I cannot post a review of this book until after January 5th when the book discussion with the author begins. Please check back for the review as you won't be disappointed! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mira | 9/20/2011

    " Really, I would like to give 4-5 stars to most of the first half, but in the end the various story lines just didn't wrap up well. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tuckleton | 8/26/2011

    " What a pleasure to have been presented with such interesting characters. I felt like I knew them so intimately and enjoyed even their character flaws. I miss them now that they are gone. Thank you! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Jean | 5/24/2011

    " Ugh. That's all I can really say.... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Acacia | 12/17/2010

    " i enjoyed the coming of age story--an accurate description of the changes in your twenties! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mollie | 11/2/2010

    " One of my all time favorite books. For anyone who is in a transitional period this book really highlights the ups and downs of change in a very realistic and personal way! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Elizabeth | 9/27/2010

    " I was not a fan of this book. I found it disjointed, with too many characters. Mostly though, if I wanted to listen to over-wrought internal monologues, I'd just sit quietly with my own thoughts. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Sheila | 8/21/2010

    " A snoozer for me. Stereotyped characters with very little plot. Not that a plot is essential but if you don't have a plot then you should have some interesting characters.
    "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Amy | 8/4/2010

    " What a bunch of mindless dribble . . . Don't waste your time. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Aharon | 6/25/2010

    " An absent editor; a lazy writer; an unfortunate read. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Julie | 5/18/2010

    " I read this book hoping to find some existential exploration of my generation and socio-economic class, but all I got was cheesy soap-opera and whining. Ugh. I have no desire to relate to these characters, and this book is insufferable. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Madeleine | 5/1/2010

    " I wanted to love this book. I really liked parts of it--honest about how friendships aren't always what they seem as years go by and people evolve, but felt like it came up short for me in the end. Worth reading though. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Halkathyd | 4/21/2010

    " Update on The Group set in Brooklyn of the '90's. Traces a group of friends from college through the next several years. Set against backdrop of dot-com millionaires thru 9/11. "

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About the Author
Author Joanna Smith Rakoff

Joanna Smith Rakoff has written for the New York Times, Time Out New York, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday, Vogue, O, and other publications. She holds a BA from Oberlin College, an MA from University College, London, and an MFA from Columbia University. She lives in New York with her husband and son.

About the Narrator

Christina Moore is an actress and award-winning audiobook narrator who has garnered fourteen AudioFile Earphones Awards. As an actress, she is best known for her roles in the television series That ’70s Show, Hawthorne, and 90210. She is a founding member of Bitches Funny, an all-female sketch group that has performed in New York City and Los Angeles for the past five years.