Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

Manhattan Beach

Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to the house of a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. Anna observes the uniformed servants, the lavishing of toys on the children, and some secret pact between her father and Dexter Styles.Years later, her father has disappeared and the country is at war. Anna works at...

Title:Manhattan Beach
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Edition Language:English

Manhattan Beach Reviews

  • Doug H

    Do yourself a favor and do not believe the paid reviewers who are giving this good or even somewhat decent reviews. I don't usually curse in my reviews, but the truth is that this is half-assed crap bordering on total shit. The characters are flat, the plot flounders and everything is presented via repeat descriptions of Veronica Lake hairdos and laughably bad James Cagney film dialogue. When characters are no longer needed, they die, move far away or just mysteriously disappear. I also hated th

    Do yourself a favor and do not believe the paid reviewers who are giving this good or even somewhat decent reviews. I don't usually curse in my reviews, but the truth is that this is half-assed crap bordering on total shit. The characters are flat, the plot flounders and everything is presented via repeat descriptions of Veronica Lake hairdos and laughably bad James Cagney film dialogue. When characters are no longer needed, they die, move far away or just mysteriously disappear. I also hated the tedious and pedantic descriptions of scuba diving procedures. This isn't literature; it's a lazy/lame daytime soap opera script.

    I finished this 4 months ago but the publisher instructed me to not post a review until closer to its publication date so I followed that instruction and waited until the publication date itself: today, 10/3/17. I initially rated it a 2 but I've had time to think about it and it's become a firm 1. It is absolutely the worst thing I've read this year.

  • Hannah

    That was disappointing. I adored

    ; it was one of my favourite books of last year, so you can imagine how beyond excited I was to read this book - I took my sweet time starting it to be able to read it at the just the right moment, I was so sure I would love this. But I didn't. I enjoyed the first chapter and was ok with the ones following - until around page 150 - when I realized that I have no idea what the point is, what the book is about, what I am supposed to feel.

    That was disappointing. I adored

    ; it was one of my favourite books of last year, so you can imagine how beyond excited I was to read this book - I took my sweet time starting it to be able to read it at the just the right moment, I was so sure I would love this. But I didn't. I enjoyed the first chapter and was ok with the ones following - until around page 150 - when I realized that I have no idea what the point is, what the book is about, what I am supposed to feel. The book is both too narrow and too broad and as a result left me feeling slightly bemused and more than a little disappointed.

    The book tells three wildly differing stories: Anna's story and her struggle to find her own place in a world made for men; her father's story and his problems with the mob; and Dexter Styles' story, a nightclub owner with ties to the mob and to high society. These stories are intertwined and related but seem to be set in completely different genres. While I enjoyed Anna and her interactions with her sister and the men she works with when she becomes the first women diver at New York's harbour, I thought the whole gangster story line was both superfluous and infuriating. If it had been cut, the book would have been 250 pages shorter and much better for it.

    The jumps in time (which is something I often enjoy) underscored the rambling feeling of this book; they made it near impossible for me to care about what was happening because important events were glossed over or told in an aside. People would disappear, just to reappear in time for them to be needed for plot related reasons; some things made no sense for the characters involved; some plot twists came out of the left field and were left unexplained.

    It seems like a book with very many different ideas and many different themes to explore that never manages to become a cohesive whole.

    First sentence: "They had driven all the way to Mr. Style's house before Anna realized that her father was nervous."

    ____

    I received an arc of this book curtesy of NetGalley and Scribner in exchange for an honest review.

  • Angela M

    I can't say I loved A Visit From the Goon Squad as much as the Pulitzer Prize committee or the National Book Critics Circle, or the many five star reviewers on Goodreads, but I liked it well enough to want to give this one a try and I'm so glad I did. It's a very different kind of book than Goon Squad. It's a work of historical fiction beginning around the Great Depression and continuing through the war years. It appears to be well researched and in my view definitely well written. It seems at f

    I can't say I loved A Visit From the Goon Squad as much as the Pulitzer Prize committee or the National Book Critics Circle, or the many five star reviewers on Goodreads, but I liked it well enough to want to give this one a try and I'm so glad I did. It's a very different kind of book than Goon Squad. It's a work of historical fiction beginning around the Great Depression and continuing through the war years. It appears to be well researched and in my view definitely well written. It seems at first that the story will belong to almost 12 year old Anna Kerrigan living in Brooklyn with her family and most times it is. There is a loving attachment to her father Eddie and she is heartbroken when he disappears. It's her story as a loving sister to beautiful Lydia who is unable to walk or speak. It's her story when as an adult, she fights the fight to become the first woman diver to work on ships in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. It's her story when she has to make some crucial decisions towards the end of the book. But Anna's story is interspersed with narratives about her father and his past and what has happened over the years he has disappeared and it's also the story of Dexter Styles, a night club owner and mobster who employed Eddie and how Anna becomes connected to him.

    It's about fathers and daughters, about men who are flawed, involved in crime but yet are in some ways ambivalent about what they do, leaning in some ways to be good men if you think that is possible. I did. I liked the back and forth of the three narratives and that they were connected and that Egan gives us a piece of history- the depression, the war, the role of women through these well developed characters who in spite of their flaws, I really liked. Solid 4 stars - recommended.

    I received an advanced copy of this book from Scribner through Edelweiss

    and NetGalley.

  • Cheri

    !! NOW AVAILABLE !!

    What I was drawn to: The story centers on Anna Kerrigan, and her Irish family, beginning in Brooklyn during the Great Depression, an era and location that should come alive, so much rich history to drawn from.

    So, what did and didn’t work for me? I was drawn into this story for very brief periods of time. When Anna was caring for her sister, whose disabilities require constant care and supervision, her devotion to her sister - admirable, and her delight when Lydia showed any

    !! NOW AVAILABLE !!

    What I was drawn to: The story centers on Anna Kerrigan, and her Irish family, beginning in Brooklyn during the Great Depression, an era and location that should come alive, so much rich history to drawn from.

    So, what did and didn’t work for me? I was drawn into this story for very brief periods of time. When Anna was caring for her sister, whose disabilities require constant care and supervision, her devotion to her sister - admirable, and her delight when Lydia showed any positive reaction, charmingly sweet. When Anna’s father took her on a business related house call to a man who lived by the sea. When Anna was with her friend Nell, she came alive, again. When Anna fights her way through the negative view of women doing men’s work in her dreams to learn to dive, she shows her spirit and determination. However, there are also many situations where Anna’s just another character, lost and fading.

    It wasn’t really that Anna was a more likable character than the others, it was a mixture of the episodic shuffle of time and place and person, which made the structure of this story feel very disjointed, and possibly even more for me was feeling as though there was a lot of ‘telling’ and not enough ‘showing,’ the writing, unnatural and stilted.

    I was indifferent at least as much or more than I was interested. The writing is decent, but I did not find it to be above average or lovely. My interest diminished, my attention drifted. My frustration grew.

    I am sure that there will be more than a sufficient number of readers who will love this novel. Perhaps I expected too much, but I know I wanted more.

    Pub Date: 03 Oct 2017

    Many thanks for the ARC provided by Scribner

  • Liz

    2.5 stars, rounded up

    “Hope became the memory of hope: a numb, dead patch.” This books starts in the midst of the Depression and continues during WWII. Anna is initially a twelve year old and a true daddy’s girl. Then she's working at the Naval Yard during the war and her father has disappeared five years earlier.

    The writing here is as good as you'd expect from Jennifer Egan. And she's done her research and the parts of the book describing the Naval Yard and the merchant ships ring true. But for

    2.5 stars, rounded up

    “Hope became the memory of hope: a numb, dead patch.” This books starts in the midst of the Depression and continues during WWII. Anna is initially a twelve year old and a true daddy’s girl. Then she's working at the Naval Yard during the war and her father has disappeared five years earlier.

    The writing here is as good as you'd expect from Jennifer Egan. And she's done her research and the parts of the book describing the Naval Yard and the merchant ships ring true. But for some reason, I had trouble connecting. There was just something missing. I couldn't for the life of me figure out why Anna felt a connection with Styles or he with her. The whole book had an incongruous nature to it. Cohesion was missing. I kept waiting for something to tie it all together.

    The book moved at a snail’s pace. Long periods of time where nothing much happened. And even the places with activity, the activity just wasn’t all that gripping. You know how when you're reading a good book, you'll do anything to get back to it? Here, I kept finding excuses not to read, which is very odd for me. I kept avoiding the book.

    My thanks to netgalley and Scribner for an advance copy of this book.

  • Robin

    Expectations. They'll get you every time.

    I haven't read the award winning and controversial book by this author,

    . But I understood, from many reviews, some found it dull, some found it pointless, others found it ultra modern and stylistic, but none really questioned the actual writing (thank the good lord, since it won the Pulitzer).

    So, I was thrilled to receive the ARC of this book, eager to dive into the writing of a new-to-me author who had risen to the top of the

    Expectations. They'll get you every time.

    I haven't read the award winning and controversial book by this author,

    . But I understood, from many reviews, some found it dull, some found it pointless, others found it ultra modern and stylistic, but none really questioned the actual writing (thank the good lord, since it won the Pulitzer).

    So, I was thrilled to receive the ARC of this book, eager to dive into the writing of a new-to-me author who had risen to the top of the top in 2011, excited to be one of the first to see what she had come up with this year.

    And I found myself reading a ... very typical historical fiction story. Better than a Sara Gruen book (though MUCH longer, so I could forgive Sara Gruen more easily), but along those lines. I won't give you a plot synopsis- the publisher tells you everything you need to know in the description. It is 100% plot driven. I was

    aware of the story, the fact that the author was bringing me back in time, like everyone was dressed up for a historical re-enactment, or, even Halloween (and felt just as natural). And, I was mainly bored. Did I mention the book was inexplicably long?? That I was untouched by the father/daughter/gangster story? That I was repelled when daughter/gangster developed a quasi-romance? Oh, and that I was bored?

    Perhaps it's just a case of mis-placed expectations. Had I been expecting a "story" in depression-era costumes then maybe I might be saying, yep, this hit the nail on the head! But I was expecting more from this Pulitzer award winning author.

  • Emily May

    1 1/2 stars. Um, definitely not what I was expecting from Egan at all... is this really the same author who wrote

    ?

    feels like several stories in one, all struggling to come together, all lacking cohesion, none of them emotionally engaging. This is a

    , full of plot points that seem unnecessary and deliberately convoluted. Is it a novel about a young woman navigating a male-dominated world and work force for the first time? Is it a gangster/mob

    1 1/2 stars. Um, definitely not what I was expecting from Egan at all... is this really the same author who wrote

    ?

    feels like several stories in one, all struggling to come together, all lacking cohesion, none of them emotionally engaging. This is a

    , full of plot points that seem unnecessary and deliberately convoluted. Is it a novel about a young woman navigating a male-dominated world and work force for the first time? Is it a gangster/mob story? Do we care either way? Personally, I didn't.

    The first section is the strongest, introducing us to the spirited young Anna and her father, Eddie, who is about to break into the mob business in depression-era America. Anna's care for her disabled sister and her desire to appear strong and capable to her father drives the first few chapters, but it is over all too soon.

    Then the novel makes one of many jumps through time and we find ourselves following Anna as an adult woman trying to forge a career for herself and support her family. After this, the book jumps back and forth, from past to present and from character to character, story to story. These jumps contributed to the

    . The lack of cohesion really affected my enjoyment of the story and my ability to connect with the characters.

    For such a talented author, I didn’t expect to see characters swooping in only when needed for the plot and then departing just as quickly. And it was

    , but not in the way that the recent

    was slow - a slowness that was still compelling, still left you asking questions and needing to know throughout - but slow in that it felt like there was nothing to read for.

    I didn't feel like there was any point to the story, anything to question, wonder about, or want to know. Though that was perhaps a result of my inability to care for any of the characters.

    .

    Looking back over the novel, I get an intense feeling of dissatisfaction. Everything is a series of disconnected plot points; many long, slow parts where nothing happens, and even the more action-filled parts were not particularly interesting. Bloodless and forgettable.

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  • Holly  B

    2.5 stars

    Manhattan Beach takes place in NY during the Great Depression and into World War II. We meet twelve-year old Anna Kerrigan and her father, Eddie. Eddie's other daughter, Lydia is severely crippled and the family has no money for the wheelchair that she needs. Manhattan Beach is home to a rich gangster, Dexter Styles and Eddie brings Anna to his home, seeking a job that he desperately needs to care for Lydia and his family. Exactly what is Eddie and Dexter's relationship?

    The story moves

    2.5 stars

    Manhattan Beach takes place in NY during the Great Depression and into World War II. We meet twelve-year old Anna Kerrigan and her father, Eddie. Eddie's other daughter, Lydia is severely crippled and the family has no money for the wheelchair that she needs. Manhattan Beach is home to a rich gangster, Dexter Styles and Eddie brings Anna to his home, seeking a job that he desperately needs to care for Lydia and his family. Exactly what is Eddie and Dexter's relationship?

    The story moves forward and Anna is 19 years old and hasn't seen her father for five years when he suddenly disappeared. Anna is now supporting her mother and sister. Anna eventually meets Dexter Styles again and learns much more about her father and his life.

    This book was a slow burner and I was hoping for something in the plot to intrigue me enough to become invested in the characters, but it did not. The story seemed to jump from time periods without anything compelling happening. I was bored at times and really didn't have any reason to keep going except just to finish the book, which I finally did! Easily forgettable, no emotions, no action and no connections.

    Arc provided by Edelweiss/Scribner

    Publication date of Oct. 3, 2017

  • Arah-Lynda

    It is not as though I had high expectations going into this.  Having never read a Jennifer Egan novel before I was bereft of preconceived notions.

    But based on the blurb and certainly on the first few chapters I was eager to continue reading what promised to be an interesting well written story.

    Set in depression era Brooklyn, Anna Kerrigan is only 12 years old as the story opens.

      She is accompanying her father Eddie on one of his many errands.  This one takes them to Manhattan Beach and a far mo

    It is not as though I had high expectations going into this.  Having never read a Jennifer Egan novel before I was bereft of preconceived notions.

    But based on the blurb and certainly on the first few chapters I was eager to continue reading what promised to be an interesting well written story.

    Set in depression era Brooklyn, Anna Kerrigan is only 12 years old as the story opens.

      She is accompanying her father Eddie on one of his many errands.  This one takes them to Manhattan Beach and a far more privileged lifestyle than anything Anna has known personally or ever been exposed  to before. But she senses a nervousness in her father as they approach the beach house that makes her uneasy.  It is not like her Dad to be this nervous.  

    The house on Manhattan Beach belongs to Dexter Styles, a nightclub owner who has ties to the mob but whose marriage also opens doors for him among high society.

    Flash forward a number of years and Anna’s father has disappeared.  America is at war and Anna has found work at the Brooklyn Naval Yard doing tasks typically performed by men.  While there she observes the naval divers and becomes determined to join their ranks as the first female diver.  

    Let me just say this.  The stage is set and there is certainly plenty of fertile soil here for the story to take root and grow.

    Add to that, some arresting prose:  

    He

    Still I never connected with this story or any of its people.  They fell flat for me.  The story itself switches perspectives and shifts back and forth in time.  These transitions were awkward and disruptive every time.  It was like patches of story thrown against a backdrop and more or less left as they fell.  The pieces are all there, a non cohesive whole, unnurtured, aesthetic less and limp.

    My thanks to Simon & Schuster, NetGalley and Jennifer Egan for the opportunity to read this advance copy.

  • Paromjit

    This is a hauntingly ambitious historical novel of the sea and New York, set during the Depression era and the Second World War. It is impeccably researched in its period details and well plotted. Anna Kerrigan is 11 years old, with her beloved father, Eddie, as they make their way to Manhatton Beach, and the opulent home of nightclub owner Dexter Styles, a man with ties to the mob. The family are barely getting by, Eddie is a bagman for the union and he wants a job with Dexter. He needs money f

    This is a hauntingly ambitious historical novel of the sea and New York, set during the Depression era and the Second World War. It is impeccably researched in its period details and well plotted. Anna Kerrigan is 11 years old, with her beloved father, Eddie, as they make their way to Manhatton Beach, and the opulent home of nightclub owner Dexter Styles, a man with ties to the mob. The family are barely getting by, Eddie is a bagman for the union and he wants a job with Dexter. He needs money for his disabled daughter, Lydia, towards whom he has ambivalent feelings. One day Eddie fails to return home, leaving behind a devastated Anna who never gets over this event. There are three disparate and fragmentary storylines in the narrative, shifting in time and place, yet interconnected to reveal the mystery behind Eddie's disappearance. This is a story of the impact of war on women and the opportunities that open up whilst the men are away, class, crime, loss, tragedy and the relationship between fathers and daughters.

    Anna goes on to work in the Brooklyn Naval Yard during the war, having to provide for her mother and Lydia. Upon sighting a diver, Anna wants to be one, irrespective of all the obstacles. Anna is a determined and courageous woman, letting nothing stand in her way. Her relationship with Lydia becomes close and tender, revealed in her care of her sister. A night out with a friend at a club brings Dexter into her close proximity resulting in a complex and intimate relationship. Dexter has no idea that Anna is Eddie's daughter and Anna is keen to find out what happened to her father. As Anna dives into sea waters that hide a multitude of secrets, such as treasures and dead bodies, revealed to the diver, so she gets closer to the dark truths that lie behind Eddie, to discover that there is so much she didn't know about him.

    Egan gives us detailed insights of New York as a Port city and its importance to the US war effort through the Brooklyn Naval Yard and the specifics of the sea diving operations. She opens our eyes to crime and what might propel a person into a life of criminality. The impact of the war and its impact on women is astutely observed through Anna and her achievements. Oddly enough, the narrative includes the use of powerpoint in a chapter. The oceans and sea are representative of fate, transition, and the immovable forces of life relentlessly moving on. In a story of redemption and reconciliation, Egan captures an era. It is not a perfect novel by any means, for example, I would have liked to have seen more substance behind the disabled Lydia rather than the symbolism of her character in the narrative. This is epic storytelling that I enjoyed reading. Thanks to Little, Brown for an ARC.

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