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The Late George Apley Paperback – March 9, 2004

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About the Author

John P. Marquand (18931960) wrote several widely admired and bestselling novels, among them the Pulitzer Prizewinning The Late George Apley (1937), Wickford Point (1939), and H. M. Pullham, Esquire (1941). He was the author also of the highly successful series of Mr. Moto detective novels.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books; Reprint edition (March 9, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316735671
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316735674
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #101,296 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By M. A Newman VINE VOICE on February 20, 2003
Format: Hardcover
John P. Marquand probably was one of the most successful authors of his day and this book, for which he won a Pulitzer prize was the start of his brilliant career. Unfortunately, with Marquand's death in 1960, he fell from favor with the academy who was itself enamoured with tales of life in a university and stories addressing issues of gender and sex. Marquand's stories about middle aged WASPs in Boston coping with trying to come to grips with their lives were no longer in fashion and sadly have not returned to the center place that they previously occupied.
This is a novel about manners and invokes the particular time and place of the WASP ascendency in America, just before the second World War. Marquand's hero is a representative of what used to be known as a "Boston Brahmin." Marquand handles Apley with a mixture of bemusement and foundness. He has clearly met George Apley's in his life and knows the type well. What would have been in less capable hands a mere characture, becomes a full portrait of what was at the time, a dying breed. Marquand sensed this and this provides the point of departure for the book.
"The Late George Apley is a bit of a pastische of privately printed books designed to memorialize a dearly departed loved one. This allows Marquand to use his frequently used flashback technique to describe the particulars of Apley's life. At times this provides Marquand with the opportunity to indulge in both high comedy and low drama, as is the case when Apley falls in love with a girl who is both Irish and Catholic. Although this enables some satire on the subject of the way Boston's elite viewed the Irish, it is also a source of regret that Apley, like so many characters in Marquand's books, did not make a different choice in life. Sentiments that as Jonathan Yardley has observed "are not just limited to the denizens of Backbay or Harvard Square."
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By R. D. Allison (dallison@biochem.med.ufl.edu) on June 29, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This novel by Marquand won the 1938 Pulitzer Prize in fiction. In this book, a writer named Willing, an old friend of George Apley, is requested by Apley's son John to collect all of the late Apley's correspondence and use them to form a biography. Although Willing is using them to eulogize Apley and to describe the life of upper-class Bostonians, the reader feels pity at the waste of a life and how a man's class and upbringing can quelch his own desires and thoughts. The book is an excellent example of the use of understatement. However, I am shocked to discover that this fairly well known Pulitzer Prize winner is out-of-print. Surely this is the publisher's fault.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By R. H OAKLEY on October 14, 2001
Format: Hardcover
J.P. Marquand was well known in his day, both as a serious writer(The Late George Apley won a Pulitzer Prize) and for the Mr. Moto detective series (made into movies starring Peter Lorre as the title character). This novel makes skillful use of the device of the unreliable narrator; it is told from the point of view of a writer putting together a life of Apley who, like his subject, is thoroughly conventional, and thus does not realize that his portrait of Apley reveals the sterility of the latter's life. The novel is also a skillful depiction of a particular class in a particular place and time. I agree with the other reviewers that it is a shame that it is out of print.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By sweetmolly on December 17, 2000
Format: Hardcover
--one of my favorite fictional characters. Everything you have read about Proper Bostonians is true. George was born with a silver spoon and three strikes against him. He wasn't to grow; he was to be molded. He wasn't to feel; he was to behave. He wasn't to love; he was to honor. That he somehow managed to do all of these things makes him a shining hero.
Marquand uses a brilliant narrative device using two voices: the ever-so-proper Bostonian diarist and George's black sheep son. The two frequently write each other disputing the type of memoir to be written about George. You grow very fond of both these completely different narrators.
This is one of my all-time-favorite novels. Reading it once is not enough
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Mark Valentine on May 2, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Hold a mirror up to a mirror. Looking into that reflection of a mirror reflected into itself--conformity into conformity--one sees only how time varies, since the same is being reflected into the same. So is Marquand's novel: a saga of one family's past and future, reflected by and through the protagonist, George Apley.
Whether Marquand intended a pun on this family's name or not, it is an apt, fictional name for a family of Boston. Planted in Boston's fertile cultural soil, this Brahmin family weathers the passage of different ages in American History. Seen through George's eyes, the events shape the people only as much as the people let themselves be shaped, and these Bostonians seriously intend on shaping their lives.
This novel has a more formal, stilted language throughout, but it works here; it is necessary. Read this book to discover an age, to explore characterization, to ride down theCharles River of time. It has a subtle, genteel power: finesse and civility predominate. How refeshing in this age of stark, graphic literalness!
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 30, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This book masterfully tells the tale of one George Aply. A man born into a world of seeming wealth and power but in reality a little cog in a system he cannot control or stop. Throughout his life George makes attempts to go beyond the limts placed on him but he never has quite enough 'guts' to complete the breakout.
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