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I am sort of a sucker for anything by Herman Wouk. As an aficionado of his WWII books, I expected this one (when I first read it a million years ago) to be too girlish for me; and it is certainly more soap-opera-like than the war books; but I think it is better than that implies. Wouk is attempting to get inside the mind of a mid-20th-century American as a way of exploring some big ideas. He is particularly concerned with the place of traditional moral values in a modern setting. His conclusions are seen by many as being bourgeois or reactionary, but I think that is going too far. He certainly favors traditional morality as a way to get through life, but he doesn't do it in the snide, condemnatory way that so many right-wingers use today. Bestselling novels just don't engage the kind of ideas that are in this book anymore.
And as a child of the rural midwest, this book was one I used to live vicariously in New York in its golden years. It is so evocative of a different era! And the characters are pretty well-drawn. Noel is exactly right as the seemingly super-accomplished yet really inadequate "genius" type; and Marjorie herself is an unusual heroine. I usually half fall in love with the heroines in Dickens or Trollope of whoever. Marjorie remained interesting and attractive without ever being the embodiment of perfection we usually get with such females.
The narration could have been better -- someone with a bit more sophistication and sureness -- and who could pronounce things a bit better -- would have been good. But well worth a listen, overall.
16 of 17 people found this review helpful
Would you consider the audio edition of Marjorie Morningstar to be better than the print version?
Definitely!. I recognized the characters immediately. I ‘knew’ them. They were family members, classmates, coworkers, people I grew up with. Their backgrounds and the setting may be different, but the people were all the same. Even though I personally know little about York City and the Theatre life, the story could be played out in any setting. The characters and the story are timeless.
Any additional comments?
Yes, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. There were bits here and there that bogged it down a bit. The ‘philosophizing’ would sometimes drag out a bit longer than I thought necessary. Some dialog was a bit ‘wordy’. But they were more tolerable when listening to the audio version. I probably skimmed and skipped through a lot of that when I read the hardcover book 35 or so years ago.
Gabra Zackman did an excellent job with the performance. There were times, particularly at the beginning, when the men’s voices were a bit flat. But she either got better at reading their parts as the story progressed, or I got better at hearing it the way I thought it should be.
I first read Marjorie Morningstar when I was in high school. I still remember clearly discovering the book on the shelf, flipping through the pages, reading a bit here and there, and taking it to the counter to check it out, writing my name on the card to be filed away and the librarian stamping the return date on the slip of paper glued to the inside front cover. I read a lot of books then – two or three books a week for weeks and weeks at a time for the years I was in junior high and high school. Many of the books have long been forgotten. But Marjorie Morningstar stood out. When I saw it was available on audio book, I got excited and immediately downloaded it.
I had forgotten a lot of the details of the book. I think reading it as a 15 to 17 year old, I had a different understanding of the characters and the plot. The parts of the book, the message of the story, were different when read as a teen. Just as Marjorie’s point of view changed, so has mine.
I am now looking forward to reading/listening to more of Herman Wouk’s work. I think that might be the best reveiw/recommendation a book can have.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful