Manhattan Beach

Manhattan Beach

by Jennifer Egan

Overview: 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.

Faith Bowers (12/25/16): I did not read “A Visit from the Goon Squad” which won a Pulitzer Prize and I’m not sure that I will. I did enjoy Manhattan Beach. Ms Egan put a lot of research into this book which was written about post Prohibition through WWII.

This book has action scenes, death scenes, love and sex separately, gangsters, navy ships, war, bankers divers and sailors. The thrill could be found in many areas of this novel. I liked her descriptions of the divers and of course the success of a woman diver the best. The underlying themes of being in control,survival and family make the story cohesive amidst all the action. I recommend this book to anyone who likes to read action and mysteries as well as historical fiction.
Rating: ***

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