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Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
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Manhattan Beach

by Jennifer Egan

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,355788,565 (3.71)152
  1. 10
    The Given Day by Dennis Lehane (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: These compelling, sweeping novels offer richly descriptive historical settings, memorable characters, and ambitious narratives that incorporate social turmoil and crime. The Given Day is set at the end of World War I; Manhattan Beach during World War II.… (more)
  2. 00
    Empire Rising by Thomas Kelly (Othemts)
  3. 00
    Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín (jbvm)
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Showing 1-5 of 75 (next | show all)
Jennifer Egan is an absolute wizard at portraying the contemporary, so I was a little disappointed that Manhattan Beach is just a perfectly fine historical novel. Egan has clearly done her research, and the changing mores of race, sex, and class in 1940’s New York is fun to read about. But many characters are introduced only to be abandoned, and the narrative loses momentum when it switches from Anna, who seems only tangentially connected to the underworld. ( )
  doryfish | Jan 31, 2019 |
In World War II, Anna Kendrick works at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, determined to be a diver. As a child, she accompanied her father on his business visits around the city. Now her father has disappeared, she is an adult, and she wants to know what happened. ( )
  lilibrarian | Jan 22, 2019 |
I read about 60%. I just couldn't get into this! ( )
  KimMeyer | Oct 1, 2018 |
Manhattan Beach takes place in Brooklyn a few years before and during WWII. The action swirls around Eddie Kerrigan, a minor member of a crime syndicate, his daughter Anna who on shear gumption becomes a Naval Yard diver during the war, and Dexter Styles, a syndicate boss with regrets.

A traditional historical novel, it invokes the flavor of Brooklyn during the war and is supported by solid historical research. ( )
  clue | Sep 22, 2018 |
I am tempted to give MANHATTAN BEACH five stars. It deserves five stars for its historical accuracy and writing style. But only it’s second half is both plot- and character-driven.

The first half of MANHATTAN BEACH introduces its various characters, especially Eddie, Dexter, and Anna. But where’s the story, I wondered. Many character-driven novels neglect plot, and it looked like this book was going that way. But I continued because the writing was so much better than I had read in a long time.

The second half of MANHATTAN BEACH made the wait worthwhile. Little by little the mystery surrounding Eddie is revealed. His relationship with Dexter causes the relationship between Dexter and Anna. And what a story! The plot is convoluted, and the book becomes unputdownable.

So I want to give MANHATTAN BEACH five stars. But in all honesty I give it four.

I won this book from offtheshelf.com ( )
1 vote techeditor | Aug 26, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 75 (next | show all)
Egan has wisely chosen not to compete with “Goon Squad” and its postmodern razzle-dazzle. Instead, her new book leaps into the past, offering us a story built on sturdy older forms polished to a high sheen.

“Manhattan Beach” — longlisted for a National Book Award even before it was released — is a historical novel set during World War II in New York....All the harbor details — from the dangerous mechanics of underwater work to the irritating chauvinism of Navy officers — feel dutifully researched. The whole novel, in fact, boasts its tweedy historical accuracy...All these strong currents — from noir thriller to family drama to wartime ad­ven­ture — eventually return to the private moment that opens “Manhattan Beach.” If that ending is surprisingly hopeful, it’s never false, and it dares to satisfy us in a way that stories of an earlier age used to.
 
They may also understand, rightly, that this will turn out to be a more traditional novel than the raucous and inventive “Goon Squad,” although the two books offer many of the same pleasures, including fine turns of phrase, a richly imagined environs and a restless investigation into human nature....Thus, the mystery of “Manhattan Beach” resides not in whether these three will meet again, but when. And a central satisfaction of the novel resides in how far-flung Egan’s characters will become and what varied terrain they will explore, before being inevitably drawn back together..Turning their backs on the crowded constraints of their urban lives, all three look to the ocean as a realm that while inherently dangerous also promises the potential for personal discovery and an almost mystical liberty. This is a novel that deserves to join the canon of New York stories.
 
Unpredictably, Egan has written something that looks at first glance like a traditional historical novel.

A work of remarkable cinematic scope, Manhattan Beach portrays the lives of an Irish family in Brooklyn, set against the backdrop of the Great Depression and then the second world war...Egan’s decision to withhold crucial scenes until late on ends up feeling disappointing, even if one can appreciate the reasons for her doing so...This is a novel that will pull you in and under and carry you away on its rip tides. In particular, Anna’s plight as a woman whose will is larger than her circumstances is dramatised with tremendous power. Its resonances continue to wash over the reader long after the novel ends.
 
The subject matter of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jennifer Egan's latest novel, Manhattan Beach, is not particularly revelatory. The book's overarching themes are certainly well-worn, its characters the kind we're accustomed to. The book tackles precarious familial bonds, secrets and lies, love and lust, abandonment and individualism – all ideas we've encountered in literature many times before..What is revelatory, however, is how beautifully drawn, vivid and moving this familiar setup is when crafted by Egan's skilled hand. Although the basic structure and setting is perhaps standard, her talent renders it anew – making Manhattan Beach a sparkling, lush epic of a novel....But more than any other ingredient, it's the complex dynamics that propel this human tragedy where Manhattan Beach finds its deepest strength. Even when we can predict the unravelling that is to come, it is no less enthralling. The experiences of these characters ring true, as do their flaws, their desires and their downfalls.
 
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Epigraph
Yes, as every one knows, meditation and water are wedded for ever.
—HERMAN MELVILLE, MOBY-DICK
Dedication
For Christina, Matthew, and Alexander Egan, and for Robert Egan

our uncle Bob
First words
They'd driven all the way to Mr. Styles house before Anna realized that her father was nervous.
Quotations
How could he stay away when she was waiting so hard?
Luck was the single thing that could rearrange facts. It could open a door where there was no door. A crooked game was worse than unfair; it was a cosmic violation.
"If wishing could make men die, there'd be nary a live one left."
“… this was the problem of men and women, what made the professional harmony he envisaged so difficult to achieve. Men ran the world, and they wanted to fuck the women. Men said “Girls are weak” when in fact girls made them weak.”
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Book description
Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to visit Dexter Styles, a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. She is mesmerized by the sea beyond the house and by some charged mystery between the two men.

‎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 once belonged to men, now soldiers abroad. She becomes the first female diver, the most dangerous and exclusive of occupations, repairing the ships that will help America win the war. One evening at a nightclub, she meets Dexter Styles again, and begins to understand the complexity of her father’s life, the reasons he might have vanished.

With the atmosphere of a noir thriller, Egan’s first historical novel follows Anna and Styles into a world populated by gangsters, sailors, divers, bankers, and union men. Manhattan Beach is a deft, dazzling, propulsive exploration of a transformative moment in the lives and identities of women and men, of America and the world. It is a magnificent novel by the author of A Visit from the Goon Squad, one of the great writers of our time. Amazon
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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"--… (more)

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