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A Rage to Live [Hardcover]

John O'Hara
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

July 22 1997 Modern Library
A huge bestseller when it first appeared in 1949, A Rage to Live is a large-scale social chronicle of America set against the backdrop of Fort Penn, Pennsylvania, a city with a dynamic history, both public and personal. The Caldwells are its leading family, and Grace Caldwell Tate is the dramatic symbol of their dominance. Her avidity for life carries her through an impetuous childhood, marriage, violent extramarital affairs, scandal, disaster, and her own kind of triumphs. Idealists and libertines, public-spirited and self-seeking citizens, officials and tradesmen and crusaders, men of violence and goodwill, and women of fierce possessiveness and tenderness form the pageant of memorable characters who vitalize what is perhaps the most ambitious work of O'Hara's career.
   "The range of O'Hara's knowledge of how Americans live was incomparably greater than that of any other fiction writer of his time," judged The New Yorker. "One would have to go back to Frank Norris, Stephen Crane, and Theodore Dreiser to find a novelist who had even the intention of acquiring knowledge on the scale that O'Hara acquired it on, and with his degree of particularity." The New York Times Book Review concurred: "Like Dreiser and Sinclair Lewis before him, he was determined to record the whole of American life, and in such a comprehensive manner that the truth of his portraits would be unassailable. . . . O'Hara was perhaps the most class-conscious writer since James, and certainly one of the most accurate chroniclers of manners in America."

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Review

“Like Dreiser and Sinclair Lewis before him, [O’Hara] was determined to record the whole of American life.”
The New York Times Book Review


From the Trade Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

“Like Dreiser and Sinclair Lewis before him, [O’Hara] was determined to record the whole of American life.”
The New York Times Book Review --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely Aug. 12 2000
Format:Hardcover
O'Hara is one of the most underrated of American writers. _Rage to Live_ builds a strong character in Grace Caldwell Tate-- her passions are handled with delicacy and skill and her story is told with a rare combination of affection and judgement. A good place to begin with O'Hara if you don't know his work already.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely Aug. 12 2000
By frumiousb - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
O'Hara is one of the most underrated of American writers. _Rage to Live_ builds a strong character in Grace Caldwell Tate-- her passions are handled with delicacy and skill and her story is told with a rare combination of affection and judgement. A good place to begin with O'Hara if you don't know his work already.
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Transition Time for the Entitled May 26 2003
By L. Dann - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Grace Caldwell was the young woman who stood out in her community, for her wealth, her athleticism and her confident, striking appearance. She was beloved of her family and suffered little in the way of childhood traumas or incidents that might darken her satisfied sense of life and herself. She was also a girl and later a woman with the sex drive of what at the time was considered- a man. More than that, she acted on it and what began in youth became a part of the rest of her life, that is the addition of a secret sexual fire and behavior that smoldered through her position as nothing less than wife, mother and social leader of the town.
The Rage to Live is a book that accurately and presciently tells of an era of transition. In that Pennsylvania small town, the country and the heroine; a transition was occuring wherein the upper classes would no longer be secure to behave however they chose. It was also an era when over-indulgence itself was in the process of entering the mainstream, i.e. was democratized. That did not lead to an increased forgiveness in the part of the newly liberated, however. The old horse riding, martini drinking gentry has transformed even more over the years, but the Grace Caldwells and their trademark entitlement still can be found in various suburbs in and around the east coast and in the summers along the various coasts. Grace and her family and her fate makes for a great story, dated, but so what.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From the paperback edition Aug. 26 2010
By a-to-b books - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Grace Caldwell was the young woman who stood out in her community, for her wealth, her athleticism and her confident, striking appearance. She was beloved of her family and suffered little in the way of childhood traumas or incidents that might darken her satisfied sense of life and herself. She was also a girl and later a woman with the sex drive of what at the time was considered- a man. More than that, she acted on it and what began in youth became a part of the rest of her life, that is the addition of a secret sexual fire and behavior that smoldered through her position as nothing less than wife, mother and social leader of the town.

The Rage to Live is a book that accurately and presciently tells of an era of transition. In that Pennsylvania small town, the country and the heroine; a transition was occuring wherein the upper classes would no longer be secure to behave however they chose. It was also an era when over-indulgence itself was in the process of entering the mainstream, i.e. was democratized. That did not lead to an increased forgiveness in the part of the newly liberated, however. The old horse riding, martini drinking gentry has transformed even more over the years, but the Grace Caldwells and their trademark entitlement still can be found in various suburbs in and around the east coast and in the summers along the various coasts. Grace and her family and her fate makes for a great story, dated, but so what.

This review is from: A Rage to Live (Modern Library Classics) (Paperback)
Just finished Rage, read and re-read the A. Pope poem, from which the book title is derived. This is, indeed, a novel centered in transitions, and treats the heroine, Grace, with sensitivity and judgment. Most, like Louis Begley, who wrote the introduction, might leap to the conclusion that Grace, through her choices/dalliances, was relegated to exile in NYC. My somewhat feminist perspective is that Grace outgrew her provincial circumstances, embraced an essential part of herself, and moved on in the wake of unavoidable tragedy - almost certainly to the benefit of herself and her children. I'm not so sure much has changed in the US, especially in small towns. Rage is a good read, overly long in some places, and as mentioned, abrupt in others, in significant respects. I skimmed much of the boring dialogue and superfluous character setups, but otherwise found the novel engrossing.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cultural Chronicler John O'Hara May 9 2014
By Chaz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
O'Hara is one of the wonderful American writers who have kind of faded into the past. I find him very intriguing. He captures a certain era in America with its mores well detailed.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant. Dec 21 2013
By mark meyers - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Study of America as it was at the start of the 20th century. O'Hara had a style and gift for dialogue making characters come alive right off the page.Page turning stuff. Haunting.
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