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In December 1930, just before Christmas, the Gibbsville, Pennsylvania, social circuit is electrified with parties and dances. At the center of the social elite stand Julian and Caroline English. But in one rash moment born inside a highball glass, Julian breaks with polite society and begins a rapid descent toward self-destruction.
Brimming with wealth and privilege, jealousy and infidelity, O'Hara's iconic first novel is an unflinching look at the dark side of the American dream - and a lasting testament to the keen social intelligence of a major American writer.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Michael on 04-25-15
Quite good, but not a classic
O’Hara thought he was better than Hemingway…he wasn’t. Yet this novel has its points, examining the power of society and belief. I did not find this one of the best novels of the twentieth century, but it is more than respectable. The power of the story is the all too obvious inability of humans to be themselves. Hemingway liked this novel, which makes sense. Hemingway and O’Hara examined the same issue (society vs. individuality) from utterly different perspectives and both valued truth. Both perspectives are interesting making this, for me, a good read, if not a must read. I did not find this a downer as the point is to avoid reaching your end without ever being your true self.
The narration is good, but not great, occasionally losing intensity necessary to the story.
6 of 7 people found this review helpful
By Steve M on 10-01-15
Although this was his first novel, in some ways, I think it's O'Hara's best. His style is fully formed, his voice distinct. It's much more focused than his longer, more rambling novels, and the portrait of a time and place are incredibly strong. The characters are vivid and unforgettable, and watching Julian's downward slide is a harrowing experience.
Christian Camargo's reading is flawless. He inserts just the right amount of bitterness and tenderness, makes the characters distinct without exaggeration. It's brilliant.
An American classic and highly recommended.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful