Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
Just recently I had the pleasure of meeting Jennifer Egan at BBC Radio 4 as part of Bookclub. The programme was about her Pulitzer Prize winning novel A Visit from the Goon Squad. Now Jennifer Egan returns with her first historical novel Manhattan Beach (Corsair) a beautifully written and constructed novel set with a backdrop of the Great Depression and then World War Two.
The story starts at around the time of the Great Depression and an Irish family and Anna Kerrigan is very close to her father Eddie, times are hard and now Anna accompanies her father and visits the local mobster Dexter. Fast forward and it is now the time of the Second World War and Anna is now 19-years-old and working as the only woman diver at the Brooklyn Naval Yard where she is assisting in the building of the Battleship Missouri. But there is more to this powerful novel than you think. Her father disappeared six years earlier and now Anna is just discovering what really lay behind her father’s sudden and unexplained disappearance all she recalls is her father leaving the apartment as he usually did that day but never to return. You can clearly see that is haunting Anna and she wants to know what happened to her beloved father.
For Anna realisation is that she now has to support her mother and her disabled sister Lydia, now her life is not as she planned or hoped for. Rarely visiting anyone or even venturing too far. She just wants to know what happened to her father. To get to the truth sometimes you have to carry out an act of desperation and later revulsion at what you have done in the hope of getting to the truth. She meets Dexter at a night club. He has no idea who she is. Anna will do anything for the truth.
Egan clearly has put in an enormous amount of time in research of this period of the 19th Century and it shows in what is an absorbing and compelling read and a handsomely constructed A novel that is not to be taken lightly, Egan has taken her time in writing Manhattan Beach and the quality of her writing is flawless. An outstanding read. Different it may be from A Visit from the Goon Squad but a success it is. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Thank you Corsair for the review copy of Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan.
Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan is published by Corsair and was published on 3rd October 2017 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.