"It was the sort of education that a young woman might have once had simply in order to be able to make civilized conversation at dinner." A stray passage from an Edith Wharton novel? No, it's Tama Janowitz's tale of Manhattan life in the '90s, which follows a decidedly Whartonian downward spiral. Florence Collins wants a rich husband. And although she is accomplished, a good conversationalist, a snappy dresser, and stunningly beautiful, she can't seem to find one. Why? Because she lives in New York; in her early 30s, she is past her prime; and her name is legion.

Florence disastrously visits the Hamptons, goes out to a lot of expensive restaurants, and halfheartedly performs her job at an auction house, but finds her matrimonial quarry ever elusive. Janowitz tells us, "By high school she had realized that no matter what women filled their lives with, there was still no status for them apart from whoever-whatever they had married." No clue is given as to how Florence comes to this arresting conclusion, but the author chooses to make her pay for her callowness. So predictable is Janowitz's notion of moral failure that we find our once-fastidious gal smoking crack by novel's end as well as friendless and broke. What's missing here are the psychological atmospherics found in The House of Mirth and The Custom of the Country. Instead, we get loving descriptions of department-store sprees: "She went to up to the men's department and spent seven hundred dollars on a black cashmere crew neck sweater--three hundred fifty dollars--two black t-shirts, fifty dollars each, a matelot shirt ... for seventy dollars and a pair of brown linen-silk blend trousers with pleats and cuffs, on sale for two hundred." This is yuppie porn--disguised as a scorching indictment of yuppie porn. Janowitz wants to have her sushi and eat it, too. --Claire Dederer

Genre: General Fiction

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Used availability for Tama Janowitz's A Certain Age

Hardback Editions

July 1999 : USA Hardback
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Title: A Certain Age
Author(s): Tama Janowitz
ISBN: 0-385-49610-9 / 978-0-385-49610-0 (USA edition)
Publisher: Doubleday
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   Amazon AU   


June 1999 : UK Hardback
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Title: A Certain Age
Author(s): Tama Janowitz
ISBN: 0-7475-4496-4 / 978-0-7475-4496-8 (UK edition)
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   Amazon AU   


Paperback Editions

July 2000 : USA Paperback
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Title: A Certain Age: A Novel
Author(s): Tama Janowitz
ISBN: 0-385-49611-7 / 978-0-385-49611-7 (USA edition)
Publisher: Anchor
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


May 2000 : UK Paperback
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Title: A Certain Age
Author(s): Tama Janowitz
ISBN: 0-7475-4930-3 / 978-0-7475-4930-7 (UK edition)
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


April 2000 : UK Paperback
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Title: A Certain Age
Author(s): Tama Janowitz
ISBN: 0-7475-4534-0 / 978-0-7475-4534-7 (UK edition)
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


Kindle Editions

July 2016 : USA, Canada, UK Kindle edition
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Title: A Certain Age
Author(s): Tama Janowitz
Publisher: Roadswell Editions
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA