As a book critic herself, she knows what can happen with reviews, but although she claims there is some trepidation, there is also understanding. “There is a human being at the other end who may have had a bad day, filed late, or simply doesn’t like the book very much,” she said. “In my experience as a critic, I know that books that came to me could have gone to someone else that would have loved it. Nevertheless, to be on the other side is humbling.”

She need not have worried. Foreign rights have been sold to numerous countries, and the Observer called it “Impressive. . . . A compelling read . . . Segal writes with a delicate, understated elegance.” And the Mail found this “assured and audacious debut” both “witty and touching.”

Audacious indeed! The Innocents recasts Edith Wharton’s masterpiece The Age of Innocence in a modern-day Jewish upper-crust suburb of London, Temple Fortune. Segal took on Wharton’s tale because to her it’s “an almost classical story that could be anywhere, in any small town or religious community in any country.” She views it as a universal tale about “anyone who has experienced the tension between a life that is expected of them and something they want for themselves, or for anyone who has been attracted to the wrong person. It’s about the pull between the safety and security of the community and freedom and liberation—and the carrot that goes along with it.”

As if being a critic-cum-novelist who tackles a classic isn’t risky enough business, Segal’s pedigree leaves her vulnerable. She is the daughter of the late Erich Segal, the classics scholar and author of the publishing sensation and bestseller Love Story, which became a blockbuster movie as well. While she admits, “I’m very wary of ‘Erich Segal’s daughter writes a novel,’ I am equally incredibly proud of my father. I probably became a writer because I wanted to be like him.”