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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forgotten masterpiece
This is one of my favourite books. I have read it about half a dozen times and still love it. The characters are as real as you could want, the story riveting and the portrayal of changes in society masterful. This book SHOULD be read - like a Dickens or a Fitzgerald.
Published on 17 Jun 2010 by SGF

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The more things change, the more they stay the same
For me, the hope was to go back to a time when things moved slower and people were more hospitable to one another. I thought I could escape from the gossip and innuendo that recently seems to plague our daily lives. I thought I could escape from those whose rigid thinking prevents them from accepting change. What I found was a pleasant narrative that reminds us that...
Published on 4 Sep 1998


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forgotten masterpiece, 17 Jun 2010
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This is one of my favourite books. I have read it about half a dozen times and still love it. The characters are as real as you could want, the story riveting and the portrayal of changes in society masterful. This book SHOULD be read - like a Dickens or a Fitzgerald.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A More Powerful Listening Than a Reading Experience, 17 Aug 2010
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
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"A proud and haughty man--'Scoffer' is his name;
He acts with arrogant pride." -- Proverbs 21:24 (NKJV)

I am reviewing the unabridged Blackstone audio recording read by Geoffrey Blaisdell. The Magnificent Ambersons can be a little difficult to appreciate because the book writes about a period far different from our own, with horseless carriages replacing those drawn by magnificent matched pairs of horses and social position counting for a great deal more than money. A modern novelist treating this period as a historical subject would write the book much differently. As a result, I recommend that you listen to the audio version in which Mr. Blaisdell does a wonderful job of capturing the mentality and emotion of the age.

On the surface, the book is all about the downfall that always comes from too much pride, especially pride in one's position. Soon, however, you'll begin to appreciate that Booth Tarkington is also writing a social history in fictional terms that captures the changing of the guard from the "old money" of the day to the newer classes of wealth based on industrialism and merchandising. You also get more than a whiff of the problems that industrialization and the automobile brought to American cities. I was reminded of the Sinclair Lewis novels that so aptly capture similar changes that occurred slightly later.

One of the best ways to portray the desirability of something positive, such as faithful unconditional love, is by portraying the consequences of its opposite, such as selfishness. In that sense, The Magnificent Ambersons is a marvelous portrait of how much pain selfishness can bring.

George Amberson Minafer is a character you'll probably not identify with, but you'll be impressed by how well you come to know and understand his sense of entitlement and to be highly thought of for no reason other than bearing the family name. As pathetic as that sounds, Tarkington succeeds in making this spoiled brat come to life. It's an unforgettable portrait, one that will encourage any parent to be sure to instill better values in the next generation than his mother and grandfather did in him.

Some of the expressions when acted out by Mr. Blaisdell continually cracked me up, including "Get a hoss" and "riff-raff." Those expressions just couldn't be read in print nearly as effectively as they were uttered in the recording.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Plus ca change, 14 Aug 2009
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'Major Amberson had made a fortune in 1873, when other people were losing fortunes.' So reads the first sentence of this hugely readable book ... but by now it is 1916 and the wheel of fortune is turning. New men are making new fortunes from the new-fangled automobile but spoiled Georgie Amberson Minafer, the major's grandson and heir reckons that the automobile is a passing fad: "Git a hoss, git a hoss,' he jeers.
The Ambersons have peaked and the only way is downhill, socially and financially, as their once splendid mansion is embraced by the encroaching, polluted city. They are incapable of changing with the times. What magnificently flawed characters Tarkington paints: proud, arrogant Georgie; his lovely mother whose fatal flaw is her adoration of her son; the sour spinster aunt who brings about tragedy not out of malice, but through her jealous loneliness. A fortune made and lost in three generations. And a novel as fresh today as 90 years ago when it was written.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The more things change, the more they stay the same, 4 Sep 1998
By A Customer
For me, the hope was to go back to a time when things moved slower and people were more hospitable to one another. I thought I could escape from the gossip and innuendo that recently seems to plague our daily lives. I thought I could escape from those whose rigid thinking prevents them from accepting change. What I found was a pleasant narrative that reminds us that the " old days " aren't necessarily what we thought they were. Indeed, there are glimpses of what we expect to find back then i.e. visions of magnificent mansions, fresh, breathy carriage rides through the snow, gala social events, etc. What most of us claim we would like to return to. However, what I also found was a spoiled, stubborn and ego-centric main character who can't seem to accept change, who is as inhospitable as can be and who, along with some of the other characters, is greatly affected by flow of daily gossip and whispered secrets. Mix this in with the coming change from horses to cars and from a tight, immobile society to a more homogenous blend of classes moving into a more migratory lifestyle and you have conflict galore as society shifts its focus in the early part of this century. For me, not necessarily a " I couldn't put it down until I finish " type of book. However, it is filled with enough nostalgia and disharmony to keep me interested. I was disappointed that, back then, it wasn't exactly as I thought it would be. In some ways, it was not very different from today. A good, not outstanding, solid book!
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4.0 out of 5 stars An Interesting View of Society, 26 Sep 2013
By 
S. Smith (London UK) - See all my reviews
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"The Magnificent Ambersons" is the second book of a trilogy about changes in the society of the United States Midwest after the Civil War. Its main interest is that, in describing the rise and fall of the Amberson family, it reflects the changes in society over this period. It is well written and very good on description, but it has one major flaw. Its main character, the spoilt and arrogant George (or Georgie), is totally unsympathetic. Clearly, Tarkington intended him to be like this and (from a moralistic point of view) Georgie's comeuppance is richly deserved. It is just a shame that it takes until the last three or four chapters to arrive. it is best read as social commentary rather than as a novel
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3.0 out of 5 stars 'The Amberson name...is the proudest name in this town and it's going to stay the proudest', 27 May 2013
By 
sally tarbox (aylesbury bucks uk) - See all my reviews
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Quite an enjoyable read, set in turn of the century America. George Amberson Minifer is the spoilt only child of one of the wealthiest families in town. As he prepares to leave college, he intends to live an idle life as a gentleman; and when he meets the lovely Lucy Morgan, he envisions marriage. But Lucy's father was once in love with George's mother... Add to the mix poor spinster Aunt Fanny, who seems to have a crush on Mr Morgan herself...
The background to the novel is the rapidly changing world of the time. Mr Morgan is making his money in the new 'horseless carriages'; the towns are growing and the former exclusive neighbourhoods are being surrounded by factories and shops.
I enjoyed it but wouldn't call it a must-read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Plus ca change..., 4 Nov 2010
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'Major Amberson had made a fortune in 1873, when other people were losing fortunes.' So reads the first sentence of this hugely readable book ... but by now it is 1916 and the wheel of fortune is turning. New men are making new fortunes from the new-fangled automobile but spoiled Georgie Amberson Minafer, the major's grandson and heir reckons that the automobile is a passing fad: "Git a hoss, git a hoss,' he jeers.
The Ambersons have peaked and the only way is downhill, socially and financially, as their once splendid mansion is embraced by the encroaching, polluted city. They are incapable of changing with the times. What magnificently flawed characters Tarkington paints: proud, arrogant Georgie; his lovely mother whose fatal flaw is her adoration of her son; the sour spinster aunt who brings about tragedy not out of malice, but through her jealous loneliness. A fortune made and lost in three generations. And a novel as fresh today as 90 years ago when it was written.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Magnificent Ambersons, 21 May 2010
By 
Mr. M. Edwards (Birmingham, UK) - See all my reviews
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It is surprisingly conversation driven, with little description, but it gives you a more rounded view of the film.
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3.0 out of 5 stars What were the Pullitzer Prize Board Thinking??, 30 April 2010
By 
Alan White (Lancaster, England) - See all my reviews
An enjoyable and thought-provoking exploration of the rate of progress at the beginning of the 20th century. But a novel worthy of a Pullitzer Prize? Surely not. One-dimensional characterisation seriously limits the literary merit of this work
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3.0 out of 5 stars too long to tell the story, 12 Aug 2014
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Good descriptions of events and characters. Felt the book did not have a strong story line. It got better in last quarter.
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