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The Magnificent Ambersons [Paperback]

Booth Tarkington
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 17.50 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Book Description

July 30 2008
Set in Midwest America in the early twentieth century, this bestselling novel introduces the extravagantly rich Ambersons, whose only real problem is that George Amberson Minafer—the spoiled grandson of the family patriarch—refuses to acknowledge the rising wealth and prestige of business tycoons, industrialists, and real-estate developers. Rather than join the modern age, George insists on remaining a "gentleman." But his town soon becomes a city, and the family palace becomes surrounded by industry, destroying the elegant, cloistered lifestyle enjoyed by the family in years gone by. This brilliant portrayal of social change in America is a timeless literary masterpiece. Newly designed and typeset in a modern 6-by-9-inch format by Waking Lion Press.

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Product Description

From Library Journal

Though not out of print, this latest offering from Bantam is the least expensive edition currently available. The 1919 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel portrays the decline of the superrich Amberson family, who act as a metaphor for the old society that crumbled after the Industrial Revolution. All fiction collections should own a copy, and all video collections should include Orson Welles's 1942 film version.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

Review

"The Magnificent Ambersons is perhaps Tarkington's best novel." ---Van Wyck Brooks --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A tack in the balloon May 30 2004
Format:Paperback
This magnificent, humorous and fanciful book -- a precurser to Gatsby -- is timeless in its central meaning: parents spoil their children and children eventually must learn to unspoil themselves.
Set in the midwest around the turn of the century, Tarkington introduces the reader into a world ruled by the richest family in town: the Ambersons. A portrait of victorian excess, the Amberson's have everything and then more. Their house is the town's feudal castle. People on the street discuss their every move.
Born into this world is Georgie Minafer, Tarkington's cartoon monster of spoiled and ego-ridden pomposity, who head is as swollen and vacuous as a balloon.
Georgie not only possesses every material item he could ever desire: he also is surrounded by remarkble women: his stunning and angelic mother who would sacrifice anything for his happiness and his wise and beautiful girlfriend Lucy who loves him despite knowing better.
Things change, the town becomes a city and absorbs the Amberson palace in a cloud of soot. One by one Georgie's protectors disapear and the magificence of the Amerbersons and everything he took for granted vaporizes like a dream. This leaves Georgie to ponder what he had, and those who knew him in the good days to observe from afar.
Tarkington masterfully weaves humor, history and gripping emotion in this book. It remains a rewarding book after more than 80 years in print, largely because its meaning is eternal.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Intensely Readable Aug. 15 2003
Format:Paperback
Who would have thought that a novel from 1918 would be such a page turner? Not to generalize, but there aren't many books pre-1920 or so that I've been unable to put down. Until "The Magnificent Ambersons."
Covering a span of roughly 20 years in the lives and fortunes of the Amberson/Minafer family, Booth Tarkington uses the fall of the family from its privileged social standing as a symbol of the blurring distinction between classes that took place in the country's urban areas at the beginning of the 20th Century. The Ambersons live in a stately mansion, separated from the outside world by vast lawns and gates, and gradually watch their secluded neighborhood overrun by cheap apartment buildings, increased traffic and pollution. What Tarkington does, nearly 80 years before the actual phrase came into common usage, is address the problems associated with urban sprawl.
The book has two of the most colorful characters ever put down on paper: Georgie Amberson Minafer, the spoiled brat protagonist who fights most fiercely to retain the family's position as one of the most distinguished in the city; and Aunt Fanny, the manipulative spinster who doesn't understand just how serious the consequences of her gossiping and meddling (to her merely distractions from the boredom and tedium of her life) can be.
I surprisingly felt much sympathy for Georgie. He can be odious at times admittedly, and more than once you want to see him slapped silly, and at one point in the novel you honestly begin to wonder if perhaps he's mentally ill, so extreme are the measures to which he will go in the sake of what he thinks is protecting his mother's good name. But by the time the novel ended, I couldn't help being won over by him.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Horatio Alger in reverse Feb. 5 2003
By A.J.
Format:School & Library Binding
Booth Tarkington can be considered one of the best commentators on life in the Midwest (Indiana, specifically) in the late nineteenth to early twentieth century; he observes with insight and humor and is a consummate storyteller. "The Magnificent Ambersons" is the story of the decline and fall of a wealthy family and its selfish last scion; its subject matter is a long way from the comic material of "Seventeen" and the "Penrod" tales, but it exhibits the same stylistic qualities.
The dynasty is begun by Civil War hero Major Amberson, who, having amassed a fortune by means the novel does not disclose, builds a vast estate, including an opulent mansion and diverse statuary, on the edge of his small Midwestern town. His daughter Isabel marries a local man, Wilbur Minafer; their son George (named after his carefree, jovial uncle, who is never fazed by disappointments) proceeds to become the novel's central character.
An only child, and the Major's only grandchild, George Amberson Minafer is, not surprisingly, spoiled rotten by his parents and grandparents, who condone his misbehavior and refuse him nothing. He grows up conceited, arrogant, pugnacious, rude, and demanding -- in other words, he is perfectly poised to inherit the executive responsibilities of whatever his grandfather's business is, except that he has no interest in business, nor any professional aspirations at all. He expects to spend the rest of his life as a proud member of the idle rich, and has no qualms about provoking the envy and animosity of the townspeople, whom he terms "riffraff."
The novel's drama is augmented by the introduction of a widowed automotive pioneer named Eugene Morgan, who was once Isabel Amberson's suitor and attracts George's naive, fragile aunt Fanny.
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4.0 out of 5 stars White gloves and riffraff Nov. 28 2002
Format:School & Library Binding
I hate to admit it, but if this novel had not been included in the Modern Library's Top 100, I probably would have never picked it up. I have never been a fan of socially conscious literature, and I anticipated a novel in the style of William Dean Howells - full of cardboard characters, most of whom would be down trodden and hopeless, or rich and ruthless, and enough moral pronouncements to make me feel guilty for at least a day or two. Thankfully, I let the Modern Library editors convince me that the book was worth reading.
The novel is set during the dawning of the twentieth century and concerns itself with the impact of mechanical innovation on the bucolic life styles of a midwestern town. As the novel opens, the gulf between prominent families and their aristocratic lives are contrasted with those in society whose main purpose it is to support this luxurious and frivolous existence. The aristocracy is personified by the Amberson family, wealthy and prominent, and particularly by George Amberson Minafer, the spoiled grandson of the family's founder. He is unable to understand that a great revolution is taking place around him, that the lifestyle he has always known is soon to become anachronistic as those people with talent, luck and a little capital will soon surpass him in wealth and prestige. Although he has the talent to join this new mechanical age, he prefers to be and to remain a gentleman and to believe that "being things" is far superior to "doing things."
As the midwestern town grows and expands and becomes more and more industrial, and even as the Amberson family compound becomes surrounded by apartment buildings and factories, George is unable to accept the fact that he and his family are becoming irrelevant.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars .........Pride goeth before the fall
Although this title may be best known by some as being one of the top ten in movie productions of all time (in spite of the Welles vs. Read more
Published on July 8 2012 by Ronald W. Maron
4.0 out of 5 stars A More Powerful Listening Than a Reading Experience
"A proud and haughty man--'Scoffer' is his name;
He acts with arrogant pride." -- Proverbs 21:24 (NKJV)

I am reviewing the unabridged Blackstone audio recording... Read more
Published on Aug. 16 2010 by Donald Mitchell
5.0 out of 5 stars About self will, and ensuing forgiveness
.

Booth Tarkingtons's Pulitzer Prize winning novel of a Midwestern town and family in the emergent new era of the automobile and modern manufacturing is surprising on a... Read more
Published on April 26 2010 by Bruce Bain
5.0 out of 5 stars Riffraff!
Few books look at the decline of old ways of life the way "The Magnificent Ambersons" does. Booth Tarkington's Pulitzer-winning novel is a sharp, brilliant, sometimes mocking look... Read more
Published on Feb. 23 2007 by E. A Solinas
5.0 out of 5 stars feeling sorry when bad things happen to awful people:
Here is a fascinating book. We start off essentially empathizing with the scornful people who look on at the main character, root root rooting for his demise. Read more
Published on May 18 2004 by asphlex
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent Novel
Here is a story about true love. Not the cliched love of two youngsters stuggling to prove to the rest of the world that they deserve to be together, but the enduring and... Read more
Published on June 15 2002 by "mahray"
5.0 out of 5 stars Just as Good Today
One should view this book in a different light from the movie. They are both magnificent on their own terms. Read more
Published on May 20 2002 by Ramona Honan
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting look at changing Americana circa 1900
The Magnificent Ambersons is a ficticious story about a wealthy family who practically owned an American town some 100+ years ago, and this family's dealings with the great changes... Read more
Published on March 8 2002 by lazza
5.0 out of 5 stars A magnificent book
"Magnificent" is the word to describe this book. Epic in scope, it follows the rise and fall of the Ambersons as the spoiled and arrogant George Minafer grows up. Read more
Published on April 24 2001 by Pumpkin King
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