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The Magnificent Ambersons

I have finally finished THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS by Booth Tarkington

It is available through Project Gutenberg, and there have been three movie versions. One in 1925, titled Pampered Youth, one in 1942 directed by Orson Welles, and a made for TV movie in 2002.

So CR actually finished before me but hasn’t gotten to writing the review.

Basically the whole plot of the the novel, is that there is a spoiled rich kid in the post-civil war and early 20th century, George Amberson Minafer, who is from the Old Rich, and he loves Lucy Morgan, a girl whose father loved George’s mother. As industry gets bigger, and urbanization begins to happen, the Ambersons’ wealth begins to go, and Lucy Morgan’s father’s car company begins to take off. The rest of the book is about his relationship with Lucy, and his reactions to everything that happens around him. I obviously don’t want to ruin the end, but the book sets up the end throughout, and by the time it happens you knew something like it would happen, at least I did.

Alright, I had mixed emotions on this book. I am mad about having to read it on my phone, but I’ll try to ignore that. It was pretty easy to read, but yet you could still feel the weight of the book. It’s pretty short, yet it tells the story of George throughout his life perfectly. He is not a likable character to me, however, and I have no idea how Lucy likes him throughout the book. Having read THE GREAT GATSBY before, I have had to study a lot about the Nouveau Riche vs the Old South, so I definitely got all of the implied tension between Lucy and George in that sense. My main problem with the book is that Isabel, George’s mom, is just so unbelievably enamored with George, and it kind of made me think that she is too over the top. I know there are plenty of spoiled rich kids (Especially at my school, don’t get me started) but I don’t think any parent could put up with what George puts everybody through. He’s obviously extremely stubborn, as he refuses to accept that the automobile will ever be popular, and that his horse was much more trustworthy. Somehow, he seemed, at times, way worse than Scarlett O’Hara could ever be, and then at times, much more likable. If you’ve ever read The Chronicles of Narnia series, especially that books after Prince Caspian, you know who Eustace is. I would say that George is just like Eustace until he goes into the cave and finds the treasure and he becomes, well, I don’t want to ruin it for you.

The funny thing is, I think his dual natures are kind of a part of the genius in the character development. Every character is just so human, that you can’t help but not like the book in some ways, just because all the characters have a flaw you can’t like. The plot seems really simple, and maybe too much like real life in some ways, but I can’t help but have loved this book, despite how many problems I had with it. The other main problem I noticed, especially after reading through review of it, is that Tarkington is extremely racist, and that really rubbed me the wrong way.

Overall, this book is great, and the character development is amazing, and I truly enjoyed the book, no matter how mad I got at the racism, and the format of it on my phone. It’s many different things put together, a moral tale against pride, a story of the Old vs New south, and a turn of the (20th) century novel, plus much more, but it’s all wrapped up into one decently short package well.

I guess I’m going to do a rating, as I feel like that will help me remember if I liked the book or not in the future, but I hate 1-10 just because how limited it is. People always end up doing .5’s or such, and if they have to do that, what was the point of saying it was 1-10. Sorry for the rant, I guess I’ll do it out of 176. Okay, that would be ridiculous, let’s go with out of 20.

I’d say 17/20 since it was really interesting, and I loved it for the most part, but the racism, and George and Isabel’s over the top craziness makes me a little off of it being perfect.

Next up is THE GINGER MAN by J.P. Donleavy, which I will probably have to buy, so at least that’s better than on my phone.

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