Manhattan Beach

Manhattan Beach

A Novel

Book - 2017
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"The long-awaited, daring, and magnificent novel from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Visit from the Goon Squad. Manhattan Beach opens in Brooklyn during the Great Depression. Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to the house of Dexter Styles, a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. Years later, her father has disappeared and the country is at war. Anna works at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, where women are allowed to hold jobs that had always belonged to men. She becomes the first female diver, the most dangerous and exclusive of occupations, repairing the ships that will help America win the war. She is the sole provider for her mother, a farm girl who had a brief and glamorous career with the Ziegfeld Follies, and her lovely, severely disabled sister. At a nightclub, she chances to meet Dexter Styles again, and she begins to understand the complexity of her father's life, the reasons he might have vanished. Mesmerizing, hauntingly beautiful, with the pace and atmosphere of a noir thriller, Egan's first historical novel is a masterpiece, a deft, startling, intimate exploration of a transformative moment in the lives of women and men, America and the world. Manhattan Beach is a spectacular novel by one of the greatest writers of our time"--Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Scribner, 2017
Edition: First Scribner hardcover edition
ISBN: 9781476716732
1476716730
Characteristics: 438 pages ; 25 cm
Call Number: EGAN, J

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Chapel_Hill_MarthaW Jan 02, 2019

This is a fascinating, elegantly written piece of historical fiction about a woman breaking barriers and inserting herself into a male-dominated space. I knew absolutely nothing about the divers – there is so much WWII fiction out there that it’s exciting when a book shines a light on an under examined piece of the history – and everything about this book has clearly been meticulously researched, in such a way that all the work that must have gone into It is totally invisible to the reader’s eye. I found this to be a bit melancholy of a read, overall, but the skill of the writing is undeniable.

k
krsbozo
Dec 10, 2018

A good work of historical fiction by a master writer. It's set in NY City during WWII. The protagonist is a woman who dives in support of the shipbuilders in NY. It has a bit of the mob, some mystery, and a lot about how difficult it was for women back then to be respected, especially when doing a job that most people thought should only be done by a man.

k
KarenTee
Dec 07, 2018

Being a huge fan of historical fiction, I was looking forward to reading this book. My book club chose it partly because of its long tenure on the NYT bestseller list. I started it three times. The first two, I couldn't make it past the first 150 pages. I gave it a third try, but skipped quite a few pages in the middle, finally finishing it and still not understanding why it is so critically acclaimed. I found it to be tedious, sluggish and not particularly well-written. None of the characters' fates mattered to me. It repeatedly bounces between past and present in the same paragraph. There are many obscure references that I had to google. And this sentence: "the fillip of collective opprobrium had summoned their lust." Puh-lease! One star is all it gets from this reader.

l
lpreston214
Nov 27, 2018

This book is very good historical fiction. Beginning before WWII and continuing during the war we see how a chance meeting with a gangster has a huge impact on Anna and her family. The story abounds in sea imagery including underwater when Anna becomes a diver in a naval shipyard. I thought the book was a bit out of the ordinary and had very well developed characters. I thought it was a bit slow at first but as I went on I liked it more and more.

c
CJTroffe
Nov 06, 2018

The protagonist goes and makes decisions that are exactly the opposite of what one would think she should do, and yet they turn out to be the best decisions and they give a happy ending. Sometimes the least likely, least rational course of action really is the best one. Definitely a good argument for following your gut.
Most of the book felt like a film noir, complete with sleazy night clubs, beautiful women, gangsters, and some violence. It keeps you reading, with fear for the protagonist for most of the story. And of course, who doesn’t love a happy ending? I loved it and recommend it.

m
michaelfwood
Oct 16, 2018

Too many implausible aspects. For example, allowing a 115 pound person to work underwater with apparatus weighing over 200 pounds. Sure. Or, how about having the heroine discover her father's watch on the ocean floor while scuffling along in diver's gear. My, how convenient! Add in the author's obsessive need to plunk a simile into almost every paragraph--whether needed or not--and you get a nearly unreadable book.

c
ckalland
Sep 17, 2018

Outstanding book.

l
leahrei
Sep 03, 2018

The young woman in this book gets a job at the NY shipyard, first as a calibrator, then as a repair diver. Her dad disappears, presumed dead, killed by mob connections. Reminded me of my mom's work during WWII at the torpedo base. Really liked this author; will plan to read her best seller, "A Visit from the Goon Squad" next.

s
StoriedLife
Jul 17, 2018

The farther into this book you read, the more disappointing it becomes. Obviously, Egan researched extensively, but then she couldn’t resist the urge to throw in unnecessary information. At the same time, her characters have no more originality than a B noir film, and her plot is packed with as many unlikely adventures as a romance potboiler. (Really? A Houdini-like escape after a crime syndicate tosses someone chained to a concrete weight off a boat?)
It’s not convincing as historical fiction, with Egan pointedly making her primary characters stand out as lone exemplars of more modern attitudes about race and sexual orientation.

And where was the editor, who should absolutely have insisted on deleting passages like this:
“I’ll sure miss Frisco,” Roger said.
“So shall I,” Eddie said. “Although it turns out only sailors call it Frisco.”
“San Francisco,” Roger said, laying down the words in a voice that hadn’t fully broken yet. “She’s a hell of a town.”

u
uncommonreader
Jul 02, 2018

This is a work of historical fiction set in the 1930s and 1940s in New York City. It tells the stories of two families whose lives interconnect. I found it an enjoyable read although at times Egan's research was a little too obvious.

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firebird770
Dec 12, 2018

Survival of the fittest. I was fascinated by the way the sea intertwined with the characters throughout the book. The story begins with Anna and her Father, Eddie Kerrigan driving to the home of Dexter Styles to meet him. Anna knows and responds to her Father in a way that is one of cunning and perspective making all the right moves. It begins with Mr. Styles crouched beside Anna on the sand and asked "Why the bare feet". Don't you feel the cold or are you showing off? Anna replies, "Why would I show off. I'm nearly twelve".
He says, "Well, what does it feel like"? "It only hurts at first. After awhile, you can't feel anything". Mr. Styles grinned as if her reply were a ball he'd taken physical pleasure in catching. "Words to live by." he said and rose again to his immense heights. "She's strong", he remarked to Anna's father. "So she is". Her father avoided her eyes.

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