2016: The Last Enchantments (Charles Finch)

The Last Enchantments Book Cover The Last Enchantments
Charles Finch
Literary Fiction
St. Martin's Griffin
March 10, 2015

The Last Enchantments is a powerfully moving and lyrically written novel. A young American embarks on a year at Oxford and has an impassioned affair that will change his life forever After graduating from Yale, William Baker, scion of an old line patrician family, goes to work in presidential politics. But when the campaign into which he's poured his heart ends in disappointment, he decides to leave New York behind, along with the devoted, ambitious, and well-connected woman he's been in love with for the last four years. Will expects nothing more than a year off before resuming the comfortable life he's always known, but he's soon caught up in a whirlwind of unexpected friendships and romantic entanglements that threaten his safe plans. As he explores the heady social world of Oxford, he becomes fast friends with Tom, his snobbish but affable flat mate; Anil, an Indian economist with a deep love for gangster rap; Anneliese, a German historian obsessed with photography; and Timmo, whose chief ambition is to become a reality television star. What he's least prepared for is Sophie, a witty, beautiful and enigmatic woman who makes him question everything he knows about himself. Charles Finch's The Last Enchantments is a sweeping novel about love and loss that redefines what it means to grow up as an American in the twenty-first century.

This book was not the least bit enchanting. Will is incredibly self-absorbed, and unable to commit to anything other than completing his degree. Can’t commit to his chosen job path, or to his girlfriend, or to his hookup, or to his new job, or his new new job, or even to the crush he’s obsessed with. He changes his mind at the slightest whim, without any thought to how anyone else may be affected.

And he’s a jerk! He guilts his EX-girlfriend into not seeing anyone else (or at least, not telling him about it), even though he’s the one who strayed. And he treats most of his friends like they are below him, though I confess that some of that feeling may be because of how the author treats them. Frankly, Anil and Timmo are his most interesting friends, but they are treated as jokes.

Oxford is the most compelling character in the book. Learning about the school and how it is set up and operates was the only part of the plot that was actually interesting. And speaking of the plot, oh my god I kept waiting for something to happen. Especially because the author continually seems to foreshadow some sort of major happening, but I never figured out what it was supposed to be. Other than his friend Tom’s family tragedy, the only thing tragic about this story is the praise it has received.

If people like this are the result of “grow(ing) up as an American in the twenty-first century”, then we are in a lot of trouble.

Other reviews:

  • “This a book that will entertain you, make you think and possibly make you recognize a part of yourself that didn’t exist – for better, or for worse.”The Reading Nook Reviews
  • “Honestly, the writing is decent and the story could have been good if some one had just been like cut the entitlement crap, there’s enough of that out there already.”Londiniumgirlbooks
  • “The Last Enchantments is a smart, quiet book, thoughtful and sometimes distant; somehow it is both—its brilliance lies in its observation.”Life is Love Leigh

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