Review: Manhattan Beach

Manhattan Beach

Manhattan Beach
By Jennifer Egan
Scribner Book Company, Hardcover, 9781476716732, October 3, 2017, 448pp.

The Short of It:

A satisfying, well-told story about a young woman’s contribution to the war effort and how her family’s history shapes who she is.

The Rest of It:

The story begins with young Anna and her father Eddie, visiting the illustrious gangster Dexter Styles. Eddie needs the money for a special wheelchair for his crippled daughter, Anna’s younger sister Lydia so as a last resort, Eddie accepts the job that Dexter offers. Dexter is taken by Anna’s youth and her bold display of strength while visiting his home in Manhattan Beach. Years later, that brief encounter is remembered when Anna and Dexter meet again.

There is a lot of great storytelling in Manhattan Beach. Anna’s dedication to her sister Lydia, is fully explored as is her love of the sea and her inevitable path to becoming a diver for the war effort. Anna’s complex relationship with her father and the diving details Egan includes had me turning the pages quickly. Nothing felt rushed. Egan takes her time and the story unfolds effortlessly. I’ve read a few of her other books but this one by far is my favorite and I do not normally enjoy novels centered around war.

It’s early in the year but this could end up being on my list of faves for 2018.

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

16 thoughts on “Review: Manhattan Beach”

  1. Your review has me rethinking my decision to skip this novel. I don’t normally enjoy novels centered around wars either and have also been put off by so many negative reader reviews. A Visit From the Goon Squad was great though… I may give this a try after all.

    1. It’s a different kind of war story. It’s more about what happens to the people at home while a war is fought. The father/daughter story is interesting enough but when the diving comes into the picture it really made it interesting.

      I haven’t read any reviews of it yet but I really didn’t find anything to not like.

  2. I’ve only read a few war centered books. One was Zoya by Danielle Steel that I read in ’88. It’s still one of my all time favorites. Good to know you liked this book so much.

  3. I read a few chapters of this one and DNFed it. I loved Egan’s Goon Squad book, but this one didn’t grab me like that one did. Sounds like you really enjoyed it 🙂

    1. I didn’t look at any other reviews of it until just now. Seems like people really liked it or hated it. I definitely don’t see the hate but I can see why the subject matter would take some time to warm-up to. I found the diving parts fascinating. I don’t know much about diving in general but diving in the 40s with all that heavy gear and being a woman and all. It was pretty well described.

  4. I’ve been on the fence about Manhattan Beach, as, despite its buzz, I didn’t enjoy Goon Squad. But I did love a few of Egan’s earlier books, like Look at Me and The Invisible Circus.

    Thanks for sharing…I may have to give this one a try.

    1. I lot of readers were on the fence with Goon Squad but this one is nothing like that book. Totally different style. I DO like that she never seems to repeat herself.

  5. Like JoAnn I don’t typically read anything centered around war or set in wartimes but, this is going back on my TBR list. Nice to read that you enjoyed it so much.

  6. Oh I’m glad you liked this one; some bloggers have been harsh to this novel so I was on the fence, but I think it sounds interesting to me (especially the diving parts). I’ll give it a go sometime this year.

  7. Already one of the best of the year . . . That’s saying a lot. I haven’t heard of this one before, but I will be adding it to my wish list.

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