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Manhattan Beach

by Jennifer Egan

Books of the Month eBooks of the Month Modern and Classic Literary Fiction Thriller and Suspense

LoveReading View on Manhattan Beach

I first came across the author with The Keep, a hypnotising duel-time, multi-narrative work. Then came her Pultizer Prize winning A Visit From the Goon Squad, an impressive novel which spans decades through the lives of complex characters. So I was really surprised to find this, her first 'historical' novel follows a linear pattern, a more conventional read than I was expecting, but nonetheless totally absorbing. Beginning in the Great Depression and closing at the end of WWII, it concentrates on Anna, her father and initially her very disabled sister. Her father is mixed up in organised crime, working for gangster Dexter Styles, whom Anna first meets when she is twelve, their paths cross dramatically again when she is in her twenties. She works as a diver in the Brooklyn Naval Yard, the first woman to do so, and we are presented with a heroine fighting for recognition and breaking the mould of what is expected for a young woman at that time. I loved it. Highly recommended.

Sarah Broadhurst

Manhattan Beach Synopsis

Manhattan Beach opens in Brooklyn during the Great Depression. 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 the Brooklyn Navy 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 as a Ziegfield folly, and her lovely, severely disabled sister. At a night club, she chances to meet Styles, the man she visited with her father before he vanished, and she begins to understand the complexity of her father's life, the reasons he might have been murdered. Mesmerizing, hauntingly beautiful, with the pace and atmosphere of a noir thriller and a wealth of detail about organized crime, the merchant marine and the clash of classes in New York, 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 magnificent novel by one of the greatest writers of our time.

Manhattan Beach Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can click here to read the full reviews.

I found this book to be so engrossing that I couldn’t put it down until I had turned the very last page. Full review

Nikki McMath

Jennifer Egan's first historical novel is a triumph. I was absolutely enthralled, drawn in and couldn't escape the shady world of Gangsters, sailors, union men - I couldn't put it down. Full review

Kathy Martin

An absolutely stunning book which totally captivated me. I was right there in the story with Anna. Set in the war years the story is historical but current too. Full review

Sandra Robinson

A deep dive into the murky waters during the Great Depression. Full review

Emma Lewis

Manhattan Beach Press Reviews

'Immensely satisfying . . . bristling with armaments yet intimate in tone . . . This is an old-fashioned page-turner, tweaked by this witty and sophisticated writer so that you sometimes feel she has retrofitted sleek new engines inside a craft owned for too long by James Jones and Herman Wouk.' - New York Times, Times Critics Top Books of 2017

'Great historical fiction, flawlessly done' - Financial Times, Books of the Year 

'The Ziegfeld follies, the criminal underworld of Thirties New York City, WWII maritime missions - all are brought to life with irresistible intensity.' - Mail on Sunday, Books of the Year

'This is a book of epic sweep and ambition whose heroine, Anna, diving beneath the waves, is a memorable figure. Egan's work has always been difficult to pin down, playing tricks with narrative conventions and the reader's expectations. This feels like her most approachable novel so far, in places as daring and unusual as A Visit from the Goon Squad but with more of a story and a heart.' - Alex Preston, the Observer Books of the Year

'From the author of the Pulitzer-winning novel A Visit from the Goon Squad comes this cinematic story of an Irish family in Brooklyn, just about coping with the Great Depression and the Second World War. It's exquisitely written historical fiction, and will pull you in from the vivid opening scene.' - Red magazine: 2017's Best Books by Women That We Should All Read

'Opening in Brooklyn during the 1930s Depression, Egan's superb novel follows its pioneering heroine into the Naval Dockyard where she works as a diver, repairing battleships amid the turmoil of the Second World War. Scenes describing her dangerous descents to the seabed in her 200lb diving suit and claustrophobic helmet make you almost hyperventilate with tension. Suspense of other kinds tingles through an ingeniously constructed plot from the author of the Pulitzer-winning A Visit from the Goon Squad.' - Sunday Times, 2017's Best Books 

'One of the joys of my reading year was Jennifer Egan's Manhattan Beach. She tells an intimate and unusual story set in Brooklyn in the second world war, centred around the flinty Anna Kerrigan who becomes the only woman training to be a diver in the Navy Yard, and whose difficult home life is drawn with great compassion. Egan captures marvellously the precarious heightened atmosphere of wartime New York.' - Kirsty Wark, The Guardian Best Books of 2017

'The novel I most enjoyed was Jennifer Egan's Manhattan Beach, a historical thriller that was quite as visionary and stylish as one would expect from the author.' - Tom Holland, The Guardian Best Books of the Year

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781472150905
Publication date: 31/05/2018
Publisher: Corsair an imprint of Little, Brown Book Group
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781472150875
Publication date: 03/10/2017
Publisher: Corsair an imprint of Little, Brown Book Group
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781472150905
Publication date: 31st May 2018
Author: Jennifer Egan
Publisher: Corsair an imprint of Little, Brown Book Group
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 512 pages
Genres: Books of the Month, eBook Favourites, Exclusive Pre-Publication, Literary Fiction, Thriller / Suspense,
Categories: Historical adventure, Thriller / suspense,

About Jennifer Egan

Jennifer Egan is the author of The Keep, Look at Me, The Invisible Circus, and the story collection Emerald City. Her stories have been published in The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, GQ, Zoetrope, All-Story, and Ploughshares, and her nonfiction appears frequently in The New York Times Magazine. A Visit from the Goon Squad won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2011. She lives with her husband and sons in Brooklyn.   Author photo © Pieter Van Hattem

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