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Summary

Winner of the 2018 Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction

The long-awaited audiobook 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 12 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 nightclub 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.

Mesmerising, hauntingly beautiful, with the pace and atmosphere of a noir thriller and a wealth of detail about organised crime, the merchant marine and the clash of classes in New York, Egan's first historical audiobook 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 audiobook by one of the greatest writers of our time.

©2017 Jennifer Egan (P)2017 Little, Brown Book Group

What members say

Average customer ratings

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A clever and intriguing novel

Set in wartime USA, the book is a tale of relationship and interwoven lives.
It is also a tale of the struggle to survive. The characters are well crafted, subtle, and well rounded.
Anna, her father and her father's employer are the central characters, their relationships complicated and interwoven.
I was captivated by the wonderful story and the performances.
I will seek out more books by the author.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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I just didn’t get it!

Meandering and long. I very much missed the point of it. Was something supposed to have happened?!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

complex interesting story

The novel broaches a broad range of characters and scenarios. There is a lot of compelling detail that makes you feel you understand what life was really like in wartime 1940s NY. For example, I found myself telling friends what I'd learned about early navy diving. The characters are likable and complicated. Relevant contemporary social themes (women's rights, the class system, social mobility, gay rights, race) are covered in a subtle way--simply part of the natural story line. This was an engaging listen and I miss the characters already.

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Would like to have given this 3.5 stars

Some parts of this family saga are brilliant amd I was totally absorbed. Other parts dragged and if I'd been reading the book myself my reading pace would have picked up. The narrators however kept a rather slow pace and low key tone almost throughout which made the dullish bits duller.

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Hugely enjoyable

I'm not sure how I came across this book, as it's subject matter wouldn't automatically have appealed, but I'm glad I did. A well-crafted story very well read it kept me entertained throughout. The story spans a number of years and the various plot lines are skillfully woven together. It was a treat to have such great narrators too. There are too many really bad ones out there on Audible!

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

It could have been great but somehow it wasn't.

This was an exasperating book. I had high expectations of it since the author had previously won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction. But somehow this was a story that did not really catch fire and capture the imagination or the heart. I was left feeling 'what was the point of all that?'

The performances were really good, each narrator adding depth and nuance to the story. The overall premise of the plot was good and provided interesting insights into the world of organised crime in New York City and the work of civilian divers and munitions workers in World War II. But there were whole sections that flagged and dragged and I felt that the overall story could have been improved by more editing.

The characters were well thought out and believable until the very end. But the cliched ending of a strong, feisty, independent women ending up in unwanted, unplanned pregnancy and a good-time-girl turning into an earth mother was not only disappointing but absolutely infuriating. It felt like the author had run out of ideas on what to do with these women.

If I had to sum up this book in one word it would have to be 'disappointing.'

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Book of the year

Loved it! Great performances, great pace, amazing use of language and a compelling story. 10/10

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MANHATTAN BEACH

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

YES SUCH A MATURE IN DEPTH LAYERED STORY

Who was your favorite character and why?

MAIN CHARACTER

What does the narrators bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

DIDNT DETRACT FROM THE CHARACTERS

Any additional comments?

SUCH A BRILLIANT STORY FULL OF LAYERS AND WISTS AND TURNS

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

The New York Novel

Great work, joins the pantheon of classic New York novels. Anna is a searing character, nuanced and interesting. Plot throws in some light twists but I read it more as literature of the period and the city than a conventional mystery. Recommended.

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Mixed and varied - but interesting

Quite an unusual subject and one which has been well captured by the author. It was well narrated and a pleasure to listen to.

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  • Jane F. Clifton
  • 05-03-18

Read it before they ruin it with a film version

Great listen. Interesting story set against the background of what life was like for women working for the war effort on the docks of New York, about gangsters, about the unions, about the warships. A thriller, a love story, a weepie.