This is a book of epic sweep and ambition whose heroine, Anna, diving beneath the waves, is a memorable figure. Egan's work has always been difficult to pin down, playing tricks with narrative conventions and the reader's expectations. This feels like her most approachable novel so far, in places as daring and unusual as A Visit from the Goon Squad but with more of a story and a heart.
Egan effortlessly weaves these issues into a compelling story of a young woman seeking both to prove herself in a man's world
Great historical fiction, flawlessly done
One of the joys of my reading year was Jennifer Egan's Manhattan Beach. She tells an intimate and unusual story set in Brooklyn in the second world war, centred around the flinty Anna Kerrigan who becomes the only woman training to be a diver in the Navy Yard, and whose difficult home life is drawn with great compassion. Egan captures marvellously the precarious heightened atmosphere of wartime New York.
Egan's descriptive writing is superlative . . . She creates intelligently drawn characters, sensitively explores their inner worlds and takes care to use her historical research wisely.'
Exhaustively researched and fluently told, the novel creates a fully believable world with characters we can identify with and care about. A quietly absorbing read.
A gripping, modern version of a 19th century novel . . . such an absorbing read.
The Ziegfeld follies, the criminal underworld of Thirties New York City, WWII maritime missions - all are brought to life with irresistible intensity.
A story to relax into and enjoy.
An absorbing narrative . . . brilliantly realised
Fine turns of phrase, a richly imagined environs and a restless investigation into human nature . . . Egan really looks, and so do her characters. This is a novel that deserves to join the canon of New York stories.
Immensely satisfying . . . bristling with armaments yet intimate in tone . . . This is an old-fashioned page-turner, tweaked by this witty and sophisticated writer so that you sometimes feel she has retrofitted sleek new engines inside a craft owned for too long by James Jones and Herman Wouk.
Rich in historical detail, full of seductive characters and teeming with human incident, Manhattan Beach proves once again what a gifted storyteller Egan is ... Manhattan Beach is an enthralling mystery tale
Opening in Brooklyn during the 1930s Depression, Egan's superb novel follows its pioneering heroine into the Naval Dockyard where she works as a diver, repairing battleships amid the turmoil of the Second World War. Scenes describing her dangerous descents to the seabed in her 200lb diving suit and claustrophobic helmet make you almost hyperventilate with tension. Suspense of other kinds tingles through an ingeniously constructed plot from the author of the Pulitzer-winning A Visit from the Goon Squad.
Egan explains her wish to write a 'heroine-driven adventure story' set at a time when women had little freedom to steer their own lives. She has succeeded magnificently . . . here, the detail serves only to deepen and enrich. Mystery novels, thinks Anna, are unsatisfying in part because they take place 'in a single realm' only. The genius of this book is that Egan successfully plumbs so many.
[An] electrifying thriller noir . . . it's gloriously addictive.
This is a novel that will pull you in and under and carry you away on its rip tides . . . Anna's plight as a woman whose will is larger than her circumstances is dramatised with tremendous power. Its resonances continue to wash over the reader long after the novel ends.
Egan's first foray into historical fiction, this is a more conventional book than her fans might expect, but it's as darkly immersive an experience
Beautifully rendered . . . genuinely affecting and handsomely constructed. It moves for all the right reasons.
From the author of the Pulitzer-winning novel A Visit from the Goon Squad comes this cinematic story of an Irish family in Brooklyn, just about coping with the Great Depression and the Second World War. It's exquisitely written historical fiction, and will pull you in from the vivid opening scene.
A fabulous read
Thoroughly realised characters, an involving plot - a triumphant achievement
Flawlessly done, with enough of a spin on the usual historical-novel tropes to make the whole enterprise seem surprisingly fresh. The flawlessness includes ease of consumption: I read the book in one sitting without effort and without even noticing that I wasn't tempted to check my social media.
Genuinely affecting and handsomely constructed
The novel I most enjoyed was Jennifer Egan's Manhattan Beach, a historical thriller that was quite as visionary and stylish as one would expect from the author.
Anna is a formidable heroine: passionate, stoic, emotionally and physically courageous. Her younger sister is an invalid for whom her glamorous showgirl mother has abandoned her career; the descriptions of caring for this beautiful, beloved and helpless child are tender and moving.
A luminous New York story . . . To find a compelling story well told, one that is full of complex characters and sentences so luminous they stop you in your tracks, is one of literature's greatest pleasures. That pleasure is bestowed liberally by Jennifer Egan in Manhattan Beach.