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The Magnificent Ambersons | [Booth Tarkington]

The Magnificent Ambersons

The Magnificent Ambersons chronicles the changing fortunes of three generations of an American dynasty. The family serves as a metaphor for the old society that crumbled after the Industrial Revolution, as a Midwestern town spreads and darkens into a city.
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Publisher's Summary

The Magnificent Ambersons chronicles the changing fortunes of three generations of an American dynasty. The family serves as a metaphor for the old society that crumbled after the Industrial Revolution, as a Midwestern town spreads and darkens into a city.

George Amberson Minafer is the spoiled and arrogant grandson of the founder of the family's magnificence. Eclipsed by a new breed of industrial tycoons and land developers, whose power comes not through family connections but through financial dealings and modern manufacturing, George descends from the Midwestern aristocracy to the working class. As the wheels of industry transform the social landscape, the definitions of ambition, success, and loyalty also change.

Orson Welles based his classic film of the same name on Tarkington's novel.

(P)2007 Blackstone Audio Inc.

What the Critics Say

Pulitzer Prize, Fiction, 1919

"All fiction collections should own a copy." (Library Journal)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (98 )
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3.8 (37 )
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Story
3.8 (37 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 03-26-14
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 03-26-14 Member Since 2011

    A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Many of the great ones too are soon forgotten"

    This is one of those fantastic little classics (it won the Pulitzer Prizes second prize for the Novel category in 1919) that while not exactly ignored, certainly aren't read as frequently today as the author's talent should demand. It was made in 1942 into a movie by Orson Wells (his second film) so it does have that anchor to keep it from slipping further into the darkness of the past. I guess old fiction is like old families.

    "Nothing stays or holds truly.
    Great Caesar dead and turned to clay
    stopped no hole to keep the wind away;
    dead Caesar was nothing but tiresome bit
    of print in a book that schoolboys study
    for awhile and then forget."

    I guess the same can be said of literature. Most books are eventually pulped. Even the good and many, many of the great ones too are soon forgotten. The writer's impulse is for some glimmer of immortality, but memories and readers are damn fickle things. We collectively shrug off and forget those we recently purchased, those banging the publisher's gongs to get attention, and to hell with all those public domain dead writers -- even if they did write such beautiful books.

    16 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. McMullen Designs Yoakum, Texas United States 09-06-09
    C. McMullen Designs Yoakum, Texas United States 09-06-09 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great Narration to a Great Story"

    Very well narrated. Great story and characters of a time past.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David B. Gillespie louisville, tn USA 04-29-09
    David B. Gillespie louisville, tn USA 04-29-09 Member Since 2009

    david562

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    "Great Read"

    I really enjoyed both the book and the way it was read. Two thumbs Up!

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    tracy thatcher, AZ, United States 03-16-13
    tracy thatcher, AZ, United States 03-16-13 Member Since 2006
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    "Change - The only thing that is truly constant"
    Any additional comments?

    I find myself thinking of this book often. The past is always beautiful in our eyes, like George Minafer's mother. The present is drab and plain like his aunt. The future is fast, bold, and unwanted like Mr. Morgan. Life moves on, whether we want it to or not. I love the line "Get a Horse!" because those unreliable automobiles are just a fad. -- While this book was written in 1918, it's moral is certainly timeless which is in and of itself is quite ironic. The book does seem to drag just a bit which is why I have given it only 4 stars instead of 5.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    My 2 Cents LaLaLand 04-12-11
    My 2 Cents LaLaLand 04-12-11 Member Since 2003

    and a penny for your thoughts

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    "Excellent Read"

    This book really transports you to the turn of the century (20th century) and gives a sense of what it was like. The reader is just right for it too. He brings the attitude of that time to the book. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I would say, if you like Jane Austen "type" books with a lot of character interaction, you'll like this.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    connie Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada 09-25-10
    connie Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada 09-25-10 Member Since 2007

    trying to see the world with my ears

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    "time to dust off this old chestnut"

    It's worth the listen just for character Eugene's musings on the future of the automobile and suburbia.

    The novel struck me as Theodore Dreiser/Edith Wharton lite, but without Dreiser's drawn out prose or Wharton's pathos (that is, a happier ending in fewer, less eloquent words, but still with a good social history lesson thrown in).

    The narration was very good -- another example of a fine novel I would never had encountered had it not been delvered (and for $4.95) as an audiobook. I hope Audible adds the other two in Tarkington's series.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anne Ithaca NY USA 10-07-07
    Anne Ithaca NY USA 10-07-07 Member Since 2005

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great story but Ho-Hum narration"

    This classic is ruined by the narration - no inflection - almost a monotone. Took me months to get through it - I could only stand the narrator for about 1-2 hours!
    Get the book - but find another narrator!

    8 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joe HOOVER, AL, United States 03-04-14
    Joe HOOVER, AL, United States 03-04-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Historically Relevant but Presently Outdated"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Yes. It's place in our established literary history (Pulitzer winner) is obvious though debatable as merit in and of itself, but the book's value as social commentary to the social flux taking place during American industrialization is quite valuable.


    Would you recommend The Magnificent Ambersons to your friends? Why or why not?

    I thought I just answered that.


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    Yes. I found Mr. Blaisdell's performance to be adequate but I was disappointed with his female voices.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    As of today I think I would likely say no, but my inclination may change with time.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. J. Christensen Tucson, AZ. 02-05-14
    M. J. Christensen Tucson, AZ. 02-05-14 Member Since 2011
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    "A Bygone Era"

    This enduring classic was a Pulitzer Prize winner in 1919. The novel shows life in a small town in the early part of the 20th Century before and after the automobile made an impact and changed the status of the town's prominent families. The author portrays the decline of the big estates and the rise of a new aristocracy based on business acumen and not only inherited wealth. The main character, George Minafer, is not very likable, although by the end of the book, he is more sympathetic. His mother seems to me overprotective and indulgent toward George and this leads to his personality problems. Tarkington introduces humor, especially in the first part of the book, where the townfolk gossip about the Amberson family. This is a well written story with astute characterizations.

    The narration by Geoffrey Blaisdell is excellent. I especially liked his tone and inflection when George exclaims: "riff-raff!".

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Yvonne Southfield, mi, United States 02-03-11
    Yvonne Southfield, mi, United States 02-03-11 Member Since 2009
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    "A family generational story"

    Families must be at flexible and grow with the changes of times. The story of Ambersons illustrate growth, decline, love, and arrogance.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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