Cover Image: Manhattan Beach

Manhattan Beach

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Thought I might enjoy it at first, but wound up hating it. Poor/unrealistic character development, cheesy "gangster" dialogue, and pedantic 1940s scuba diving research information jammed in my face totally turned me off. Sorry, but I'm being honest here.
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Historical fiction with a strong female protagonist and gorgeous writing. Egan has reinvented herself following A Visit from the Goon Squad and the result is impressive.
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I will start by saying that I have never read a Jennifer Egan book.
Here is a story that takes place in the 1930's and 40's during the Great Depression in New York.  The story does have some interesting historical information that shows the author did her research.  To me a few things fall short in this story ~ Anna never truly found love, you saw a very tender side of her with her disabled sister Lydia and then again with her mother.  Also there seemed to be 3 different stories going on at the same time.  The book was definitely well written just maybe not my cup of tea.  The ship does set sail and was docked nicely at the end and for that I give it a 3 star rating.
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Egan's novel the Goon Squad garnered both the Pulitzer and the National Book Circle awards and expectations for Manhattan Beach are understandably high.

Manhattan Beach is no Goon Squad and in a complete departure Egan turns to the genre of historical fiction.

Set in the depression years of New York, it tells the story of Anna Kerrigan. Anna is 12 years old when we first meet her, accompanying her father, Eddie to the house of Dexter Styles, a nightclub owner with links to the New York criminal underworld.  Her father has business that will have ramifications for Anna and her family. It is not until some years later that Anna will understand the true nature of their business.

As Anna reaches adulthood America enters World War and Eddie simply disappears leaving Anna to support her disabled sister Lydia and her mother by working in the naval shipyards. By sheer will and determination Anna becomes a diver, mending warships, in what was a male dominated profession.

When Anna once again meets Dexter Styles in his nightclub, the course of her life changes forever and the mystery of her fathers disappearance is finally solved.

The scope of this novel is vast, covering the role of women as part of the war effort, the bravery of the Merchant Navy and the illegal spoils of war.

Anna herself, is tenacious, and determined and more than holds her own in a man's world bucking the narrow minded view of women held by many of her generation. She has few friends but at the heart is the relationship with her father, a man she clearly adored, yet held responsible for the fate of her family. It is perhaps the love she has for him that pushes Anna to take great risks to solve the mystery of his disappearance.

The villain of the  novel is undoubtedly Dexter Styles, a man seemingly in control, with a beautiful wife and adorable children. At times he comes across as a man of morals, disdainful of those men who have affairs, yet underneath he will think nothing of removing those who threaten his business interests, a man of contradictions.

Then you have Anna's father, Eddie, a man with an instinct for survival, a man who clearly loved his family yet still left them. Eddie's story was particularly good and the imagery conjured up by Egan's writing of his time at sea was wonderfully evocative.

The attention to historical detail is fantastic and skilfully done without drowning out the story. I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of the naval shipyards and was amazed at the roles and jobs women undertook. Women still faced prejudice and belittlement, and had to fight hard to be recognised as equals to men. Anna is testament to that fight for equality and it is to Egan's credit as a writer that she has written a novel that so wonderfully portrays their efforts.

The novel will not be to everyone's liking as it does not have the originality of the Goon Squad but it is a novel that is certainly impressive in both its scope and narrative.

Thank you to Corsair Books for a proof copy to read and review.
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Thank you for an advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  There were parts of this book I really enjoyed, but others where the story kind of fell flat for me.  It seemed there were too many facets trying to be woven together..
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I have enjoyed everything that Jennifer Egan has written and thought that A Visit from the Goon Squad was one of the best books I read that year. So, when Netgalley offered Manhattan Beach, I was pleased. Egan’s other work has been, in one way or another, experimental, but Manhattan Beach is a straightforward historical novel, to my surprise.

Anna Kerrigan is a young girl at the start of the novel in 1930’s New York. Her father, Eddie, works as a bagman for the longshoreman’s union and takes her with him on his rounds. But shortly after the start of the novel, he begins leaving her home. He does this after he takes a new job working for a gangster, Mr. Styles. Although Anna interprets this as rejection, it is to keep her safe.

Eddie does not enjoy his home life. Although he loves his wife, they have a second daughter, Lydia, who is severely handicapped. Her presence makes him feel uncomfortable, and Agnes is always trying to force him to show affection to Lydia.

Then Eddie disappears without a trace. Anna begins working to help support the family. Eventually, the story splits into two. In one, Anna becomes involved with Mr. Styles, whom she remembers visiting as a child with Eddie, and works her way into the man’s world of marine diving as part of the war effort. In the other story, we find out what happened to Eddie.

For most of this novel, I wondered where it was going. Much of it centers around Anna, Eddie, and Mr. Styles. But first it seems to wander in focus from the New York underworld to the war effort and diving to Eddie’s experiences during World War II. Although the bulk of the novel is set during the war, there is very little feeling for the period.

Overall, I was a little disappointed in Manhattan Beach. It was well written, but Egan’s previous novels sparkled with originality. Egan makes it clear in the acknowledgements that she wanted to write about New York during the period, but the period feel is just not there. She is interested in the Naval Yard, where Anna works, but I didn’t really get an idea of what it was like.
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Let me start by saying that this is not a book I normally would have picked up, but I'm glad I did. The writing has a way of drawing you in, so that it feels like someone is telling you a story, and you forget you're reading. The story has three perspectives, and takes a strange path that you don't really see coming. Although it is set during WWII, I don't think I would call it a "war book", the war is like the backdrop but the story is about the people. The writing is just superb, and will definitely look for Jennifer Egan's books in the future.
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Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in early October.

The shipyard-working Anne and her sea-faring dad, Eddie, share a slightly-out-of-order narration between the 1920s-1940s. It runs the full gamut from 'bright young things' to Howard Hawks movie banter to what eventually becomes a stateside civilian and 4-F draftee version of 'Man of Honor' (the Navy diving film with Robert De Niro and Cuba Gooding, Jr. ) with the ongoing threat of Brooklyn-based organized crime. Don't get me wrong, though, it's still an amazing, well-written book, but it just takes some odd turns now and then.
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This is a lovely, gorgeously-written book that effectively interweaves three separate but connected characters, each with their own stories, all tied to the desire for reinvention.  

This is not a novel driven by plot, though there is ample plot to enjoy.  It’s not a novel where three stories crash together in a crescendo, though each thread is explored and resolved.  It’s not at all experimental or audacious as was Egan’s “A Visit From the Goon Squad,” satisfying itself to explore the depths of a conventional novel that fits the times in which it’s based.  

What it is is a beautifully-written, thoroughly engaging, painstakingly-researched and completely entertaining novel well worth your time.
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I selected this book due to the author. There is no doubt that Jennifer Egan is a very skilled writer, and this book is already on this year's National Book Award's longlist. This book is very different from A Visit from the Goon Squad, however, and much more historical fiction/noir than I usually read. While the book was a bit long, and the story took too long to unfold, it did gradually grow on me over time. Anna was an indomitable and compelling character, and with the meticulousness of the author's research, her story rang true. I suspect that anyone who doesn't care for this book is someone like me, for whom this isn't really their favorite genre. But given the care with which it's crafted, I expect that it will do very well, both in the literary world and as a best seller.

I received this book for free from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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I was given this book as an ARC from #netgalley

I haven't read anything by this author before but I have heard of her. The description of this book as taking place during the depression in New York City was right up my alley and did not disappoint.

The story depicts several characters...a mobster, a young girl and her father and how their stories intertwine and how their lives affect each other starting in the depression and leading up to WWII. The story takes place in NYC with some scenes taking place in California and the Indian Ocean as well. You can tell the book has been meticulously researched and as you read it you can almost feel like you are walking alongside the characters and can clearly picture the scenery.

I found that the book kept my interest until the end and I wasn't necessarily able to predict what was coming next.

I would definitely recommend this book to others.
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I really really wanted to love this book.  Having not read any of Egan's previous work, I didn't quite know what to expect.  I was interested in the main character and her decision to become a "diver," and I was interested in the parts about her family--especially Anna's ties other invalid sister.  What just did not captivate me was the storyline that started with Anna's father's involvement, and what became Anna's involvement, in the seedy crime syndicate world.  The two storylines did not come together or intertwine enough for me, and I felt like I was reading two separate stories. There was also a lot of slang from the time period that we were expected to know, but because it was never explained, I became frustrated and lost in parts. The book sounded so promising but just didn't land for me.
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A big, old-fashioned, absorbing historical narrative – America in Depression and At War

Jennifer Egan’s Manhattan Beach follows the story of two different tranches of the American immigrant experience, and is set during the Depression and the Second World War.

There are 3 stories followed, which interlink with each other through Anna’s story. At the start of the novel Anna Kerrigan is nearly 12, a young girl idolising her father, and close to her mother and her sick sister. Father Eddie struggles, as so many working men did, at this time, to make a living. He has lost much in the crash and is now working as a kind of muscle for a longshoreman union official. Keeping the family together, particularly with the medical needs of Anna’s sister Lydia, is not easy. 

Eddie has decided to take a chance on getting more lucrative work – but this must come at a price, as he intends to offer his expertise to Dexter Styles, a man with mob connections, who has hidden his Italian background, and is riding high in society, happily married. The family he has married into is old money, established class. Everyone knows is somehow connected, still to ‘a shadow government, a shadow country..A tribe. A clan’ He is though someone who is good at subterfuge, though there are plenty of rumours about him, and as long as no one looks too closely at the source of his wealth, and is just happy enough with that wealth, he, and they, will get along fine.  

Eddie has taken Anna along to his job ‘interview’ with Dexter, as knowing something about a man’s family gives him a certain edge and information. And Eddie will be offered employment

Egan then takes a forward jump, and we, like Anna, are in the position of ‘something happened’ – but we don’t quite know what. All we know is that at some point, some years ago, Eddie disappeared. Anna still holds a memory of the mysterious Mr Styles, and the glamour of his house, on that day Eddie took her along. It is now Anna’s job to keep the family together. America is now at war. War has created opportunities for young women, working in fields never open to them before. Anna is now one of a female workforce employed in Brooklyn’s Naval Yard, measuring and inspecting tiny parts for battleships. She has a better dream – the desire to be a diver, to inspect and repair vessels underwater. 

This whole section of Anna’s story, her struggle to work in an area thought unsuitable for a woman, was particularly fascinating. 

There is also a more conventional story beginning – a chance encounter between Anna and Styles in a nightclub – she recognises him, but he has no idea who she is, especially as when she introduces herself she gives a false last name – a story which will be in part a detective story, and in part a love story. Anna wants to find out the truth about her father’s disappearance, and the mysterious Mr Styles is a sensible place to start

Anna’s story, Dexter’s story – and also the story of Eddie’s disappearance. And it also the story of capital, labour, and the American Dream

“I see the rise of this country to a height no country has occupied, ever….Not the Romans. Not the Carolingians, Not Genghis Khan or the Tatars or Napoleon’s France….How is that possible you ask. Because our dominance won’t arise from subjugating peoples. We’ll emerge from this war victorious and unscathed, and become bankers to the world. We’ll export our dreams, our language, our culture, our way of life. And it will prove irresistible”

High money and low money, muscle, graft, honest labour and labour less honest, corruption, class, race and sexual prejudice – it’s a big canvas.

I did not get to read Egan’s Pulitzer, A Visit From The Goon Squad (though I am minded to, now) That was, I understand, a far more experimental/unusual structure. This is not, though we do have the 3 voices, and the 3 stories, but the structure is a conventional narrative. I found it a fascinating read, particularly because I am drawn to books which engage with describing hard physical work – stuff of craft and muscle.

I received this as an ARC from the publisher, Simon and Schuster, via Netgalley. Gratefully.

It will be published on October 3rd
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Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan is a highly recommended historical fiction novel set in New York City during the Depression and World War II.

In 1934 Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father, Eddie, to visit Dexter Styles at his Manhattan Beach home. Styles is with the mob and Eddie is looking for a job with him so he can leave his job as a bagman for a crooked union official. Styles insists that people who come to visit him bring their families, but Anna is the only family member who can go with Eddie. His wife is at home caring for their severely disable daughter, Lydia. Part of the reason Eddie wants a job with Styles is for the better pay, which will enable him to buy a specially made chair for Lydia.

Years later the world is at war. Anna is nineteen and supporting her mother and sister by working at the Brooklyn Navel Yard. Her father, Eddie disappeared five years ago, leaving his family behind with no word. After seeing divers in the yard, Anna is intrigued and obsessively sets her sights on becoming the first female diver. It is at this time that she meets Dexter Styles as an adult, at one of his nightclubs. When Anna meets him again, she hopes he can tell her what happened to her father.

The quality of the writing is brilliant. Manhattan Beach manages to capture the time and place to such an extent that you are transported there. What starts out as a seemingly simple, well-written novel evolves into a much more rich and intricate story following three narratives. Adding to the depth of the prose is the ocean as an ever prevalent motif in Manhattan Beach. It transfixes Anna, transports Eddie. It enthralls, mesmerizes, destroys, saves, engages, and employees. It offers life and death.

The characters are wonderfully realized and complex. The strengths and flaws of her diverse characters are firmly established. Egan has some surprising phrasing and apt, remarkable descriptions that utterly capture the moment and the emotions and sensations a character is feeling. Her characters are allowed to be themselves, full of conflicting allegiances and emotions,  without resorting to clichés.

In the final analysis, however, I do wish that Egan has chosen to keep the story focused on Anna. While I can logically see the wisdom behind the choice to branch out and spend so much time on all three narratives, Anna was the character I was drawn to and cared anxiously about. She had my fealty and support, while the actions of Styles and Eddie were more of a passing interest.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Scribner.
Amazon and B&N after publication
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I was eager to read the next novel by Jennifer Egan after loving  A Visit from the Goon Squad , which was intriguingly constructed and unique. That story spun from character to character and wove a beautiful, interconnected web. To her credit, Egan tried to establish a similar web with Manhattan Beach, but it mostly fell flat for me. In contrast to the other, the reader spends their time reading the perspectives of three characters instead of a wider multitude and the character spins aren't as great. While Egan clearly excelled at writing some of the characters, not all of them seemed fully developed. 

Manhattan Beach mostly takes place during the 1940s, but weaves to times before then occasionally, and the war is perpetually on the horizon. A theme of water moves throughout the entire novel with our three main characters all meeting at the beach for the first time, two of the characters diving together to find clues about a third, and one working on a ship.

The main characters are Eddie, the patriarch of an Irish family in Brooklyn who eventually becomes involved with the shadow world aka organized crime, Eddie's daughter Anna who we follow from youth to her early 20s where she aspires to be a civilian diver at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and Dexter Styles, a prominent figure within New York's shadow world who employs Eddie. In addition to our three central characters, so many characters are mentioned in passing (particularly those related to Dexter Styles) that it was hard to keep track of who they are, why they matter, and what their relevant traits are when they're reintroduced. 

I liked all of the bits from Eddie's perspective the best and if we had followed him throughout the entire novel instead, this book very well could have garnered 5 stars from me. There's a moving scene with Eddie on a raft that will stay with me for weeks. Aside from Eddie's bits, the novel trudges along slowly and picks up in the last 100 pages (though it seems like other reviewers disagree with me and felt like the first 100 pages were the most engaging).

Overall, the novel was well written, but the story arcs and setting just weren't for me. I haven't been a fan of historical fiction in over a decade (remember that Dear America diary series? *swoon*) and this book didn't incite me to switch back into the historical fiction appreciation camp. When I was more interested in this genre, I was partial to historical pieces that aren't based in America so it's very possible I could've liked something like this had it been situated elsewhere, but I simply didn't find this story all that interesting. If you're an Egan fan with a hunkering for some NYC historical fiction, this will be great. If you're not... well, you're not. 

My favorite quote from the novel is, of course from one of Eddie's bits, when he is reflecting on his relationship with his daughter Anna:

"It was as if being his daughter had blinded her uniquely, as if anyone else -- everyone -- had seen and known him in a way she could not."

Manhattan Beach will be released at physical and digital U.S. bookstores on October 3, 2017! 

Disclaimer: I was provided with a digital copy of this book for free from Scribner via NetGalley. All opinions expressed in the review are my own and have not been influenced by Scribner or NetGalley.

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Anna Kerrigan grew up in the 1940s in Brooklyn.  One day when she was 11 her Dad took him to the home of an associate on the water in Manhattan Beach. Anna found herself attracted to the beach and even took off her shoes to wade in the water on that cold January day. Eight years after that visit, her Dad, an out of work laborer who worked for the mob, disappeared. 

The family he left in a small apartment in Brooklyn was composed of Anna, her severely ill sister, Lydia, and her Mom, Agnes, a former showgirl. Since it was assumed that her Dad was dead, 19 year old Anna was expected to work to support the 3 women. Fortunately the nearby Brooklyn Navy Yard had hired more than 800 women to replace the men fighting the war abroad. 

While working at a boring job (measuring metal parts), Anna learned that the Navy was training divers to work with salvage vessels at the Navy Yard. There were many obstacles to being chosen as the first and only female diver but Annan overcame each of them. Eventually she became  one of the top divers but still faced discrimination.

Anna also connected with Dexter Styles, the nightclub owner/mobster, and the man whose house she had visited years before in Manhattan Beach. She was sure that Dexter could let her know what had happened to her Dad. A few years later her sister was dead, her mother had moved back to Minnesota and Anna was on her own. She once again beseeched Dexter to help find her Dad. She soon became involved with Dexter, an event that would have serious repercussions for both of them.

Egan presents Anna as a strong feminist character who used the loosened structures of society during WWII to forge a very different life than the one that other contemporary women were leading. This book is critically acclaimed and worth reading by anyone looking for a historical fiction book about WWII and strong women. Egan won a Pulitzer prize for the book, A Visit from the Goon Squad.
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Jennifer Egan’s new novel starts out as an almost traditional historical novel, with only a few pin-sharp observations here and there betraying her immense and innovative talent.

She shifts from one element of the story to another seamlessly, you can easily tell she is an experienced writer who is not in a hurry, who clearly knows where her story is going. 
The heavy focuses, such as the great depression, living with a disabled sibling, parental abandonment - none handled lightly -, are interspersed with the cozy-read topics, such as mother and daughter stitching, sons and father watching ships through binoculars, wine-tasting camaraderie at night on a merchant ship in the Mozambique Channel.

The most striking value of the book is its beautifully researched story. The naval yard details are impressive, and the novel is interesting even in the simplest sense of the word, i.e. impossible to put down, as we learn about captivating facts related to shipbuilding, deep-sea diving, small-boat survival, post-depression NY, wartime banking.

As rich as it is in historical detail, the focus is on the characters. We don't get to read any contemplative and philosophical analyses or piece of wisdom a writer might be tempted to offer on historical events in hindsight. The most interesting character is Dexter Styles, a tall dark stranger-type of male, the mysterious gangster Anna’s father occasionally  does jobs for; as the story evolves, we get to know in him a complex person with a complicated ethics.

The supporting cast is lovely with its humorous typologies, such as "the marrieds", the more reserved and more conventional shipyard workers, the chatty nurse at the blood donation station, or the more dramatic ones, such as the boatswain (“bosun”) who speaks with an Oxford elegance on the merchant ship, or the more traditional ones, such as the doctor, whose mere existence and work make it bearable to attend to the severely disabled sister/daughter. They are all a discreet tribute to fighters who support the war efforts in the homeland.

Jennifer Egan’s cinematic descriptions are a sensory feast. Nell and Anna’s nightclub outing is reminiscent of Amor Towles’s elegance in Rules of Civility, the image of the tables humming like hives evokes Anna Funder’s insect-nest metaphor for the nightclub. Those who love her for A Visit from the Goon Squad will not be disappointed here either, seeing her as she moves her sharp camera from one character to another, delving into each one's mind and life. Her seamless timeline shifting is not merely a writer’s contrivance, but shows in a very skillful way how the events shaped the characters' personalities. The way Eddie's mystery is elucidated slowly through Dexter's story is simply brilliant.

Dialogues are another strong point in the novel. The historical events are woven into the gentlemanly chats, and the scenes with the men talking about war and politics recalled the lovely classic flavor of Gone with the Wind. Discussions between the mobster capo and Dexter, or Dexter and his wife, are perfectly tense with what is being said and withheld, with psychological nuances only the great authors are capable of delivering or even care about, something I loved very much in Franzen’s Freedom. His perceptiveness about what I like to call "the American details" is visible in Jennifer Egan’s work, as well.

Perhaps the only weakness I perceived was in how the beginning and the end were written. The deceptively simple language in the opening chapters could easily deter cultural snobs like I am from continuing, and the much too convenient denouement could leave an aftertaste of being cheated out of the highbrow experience the finest parts gave us. Although we are led to believe Anna’s life was a war life and the mechanisms of her life were organically built around the reality of wartime, her interest in the war seems to be rooted more in a natural youthful survival instinct than patriotism.

The major characters’ moral maturation occurs on paths that are very much different, yet similar in their outcome. Their realization takes place after each one of them has betrayed someone they love: Eddie abandoned his family emotionally and then physically, Dexter did the same just emotionally (both realize their children have grown without them), and Anna virtually everyone. Her strange double life starts as early as her childhood, when her city adventures with her father alternate with the soul-refining burden of helping her mother with the disabled sister. As she grows up, her "other" life extends to other experience incompatible with “nice” girls, and later on, to a consuming and dark adultery that will change her already changed life forever.

The very satisfying mélange of narrative flavors makes this modern classic a truly unforgettable personal drama on the backdrop of the heartrending post-depression national drama. I recommend it to all who still believe that writing should not be a tour de force of the writer’s intellectual exhibitionism, but a responsible invitation to a journey that enriches the reader both emotionally and intellectually.
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What started off strong, in writing and in premise, soon fell completely flat for me. I couldn't connect with any character and found the back and forth in time and then characters created a disjointed feeling. Nothing flowed or felt consistent. I struggled to figure out what the point of the story was and where it was going, but I also realized I didn't really care. I forgot the names of the characters as soon as I would put the book down. It very much seemed that the author threw quite a lot against the wall hoping something would stick but it never did.
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Writing: 4 Characters: 4 Plot: 4
New word for me: apotropaic (supposedly having the power to avert evil influences or bad luck.)

A cross between A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and an action oriented WWII novel.

I enjoyed this book and read it quickly. It’s unusual in that it is both character and detailed action driven, by which I mean that equal emphasis was placed on the characters and their environments. The story takes place in New York City during WWII.  It revolves around three interconnected characters, each with their own narrative arc:  Anna is a quick witted and focussed young girl growing up in Brooklyn who likes accompanying her father on his “bag drops”; Dexter Styles, a polite gangster married into an upper crust family who seems to have more depth and sense of morality than many in his position; and Eddie, Anna’s father, who mysteriously disappears one day after several years working for Dexter Styles.

The settings have been given equal, if not greater, time and focus in the story.  Anna takes a job in the Navy Yard during WWII and gets a strong urge to become a diver after glimpsing a dive on her way home.  We are treated to in depth descriptions of her war work, diving equipment of the time, dive protocols and processes, and the ease with which a woman could get into that line of work (hint: no ease at all!). In another narrative stream we learn about life as a merchant marine during the war, including a detailed shipwreck survivor scenario. Lastly, details about the world of upper class banking and gangsterhood (hint: one is legal but that is about all that separates them!) abound.  For me, some of the technical descriptions went on a bit longer than I found necessary but I am good at adjusting reading speed to match my interest in the section so this was not a problem. I know others will find these action scenes / technical details more exciting than I did.

While the story revolves around the three primary characters above, there are many additional, well drawn supporting characters. Each was representative of a certain “type” in the era, but also a clear individual with their own personality, quirks, and goals. Lydia, Anna’s sister, born with an undefined wasting disease (sounded like cerebral palsy to me); her mother Agnes, the beautiful follies star who gave up working to love and care for Lydia; the Berringer family, a wealthy Episcopalian family into which Styles marries; Marle, the only negro in the dive class; Paul who thought diving might help him get into the navy and others. 

Good writing, interesting characters, complex plot - a good combination of action oriented and character driven - rare in novels.  A little long winded for me in parts, though I’m guessing others would pick the opposite parts to shorten.  Definitely worth reading.
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This novel was honestly a slog for me to get through. While I appreciate Egan's talent as a writer and the considerable amount of research she must have done to craft such a novel, there isn't much of a solid plot here. The description claiming that her father "disappeared" makes it sound like a mystery novel, but instead Anna has accepted that he abandoned his family and has given up hope. There is no attempt to trace his footsteps or find him.

The domestic portions of the novel were boring at best and left much to be desired. While Lydia certainly gave her sister motivation, she just felt unnecessary. So too was the subplot with Dexter. I didn't sense any chemistry at all between him and Anna. With the slow pace of the novel, I wish I could have understood the characters' motivations, but alas, I didn't.
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