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Marjorie Morningstar Paperback – June 15, 1992
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Written by an author whom I consider to be one of the very best to come out of the 20th century, Herman Wouk offers a window into the soul of a young female actress growing up in New York City in the pre-World War II era. There, we vicariously live through the life of young Marjorie, her conservative Jewish parents, her comical Yiddish uncle, and her painstaking trials and tribulations in dealing with the elusive concept of love. But what makes this book so unique and wonderfully rich is that Wouk has made this novel a timeless classic, in that the themes which were prevalent back in the 30's are still alive and vibrant today. The overbearing "we-know-what's-best" parental figures. The embarrassing relatives. The ethnic cultural rules and traditions that clash so vehemently with American mainstream. After half a century when this book was first published, the it continues to hold a firm grasp on the ideology of what comprises the American family structure today.
Wouk has masterfully penned a novel about a young woman that erases the boundaries of religion, location, and era. Through Marjorie, he writes about human nature, our fears, our aspirations, and our beliefs. I first read this book 10 years ago, and after many readings I continue to discover new things about the characters, and myself. It is treasure, and simply put, a literary masterpiece.
What are you waiting for? Go read it.
Beginning in Central Park West in the 30's and ending in the post-war 50's, "Marjorie Morningstar" is a classic coming-of-age book filled with backstage drama, family clashes, and a love affair you will never forget. You will be thoroughly engrossed in Marjorie's search for identity and her realization that the thing we often try hardest to avoid is that which we truly want most of all.
Marjorie Morningstar often seems to be thought of as a "woman's book" but it's not; I'm a male reader and was captivated with Mr. Wouk's work. Back in 1955 the book was THE publication of the year, resulting in a TIME Magazine cover story about the book's prominence.
Also strongly recommended: Youngblood Hawke, another epic novel written several years later by Mr. Wouk.
Many reviewers have commented on how MORNINGSTAR shows how different social mores were back in the "dark days" of the 1930s. But a closer examination of this book shows that the book is really a defense, and a fairly eloquent one, of those mores. As a young girl, Marjorie tries to reject the values of her Jewish upbringing, including its emphasis on modesty, because "after all, this is 1935". But by the end of the book, Marjorie learns that the sophisticated, "modern" people she has tried to emulate are, in their own way, just as hypocritical, unforgiving, and superstitious as the religious world of her parents. In the end, Marjorie returns to her tradition--at least, this is my take on this--because that tradition at least tries to make her into something good, instead of just into someone who sneers at the "unsophisticated".
Feminists probably hate this book; indeed, there's a Jewish organization called the Morning Star Commission that fights media stereotypes of Jewish women, and takes its name from Marjorie Morningstar. But in reality, Marjorie is not a stereotype. She is a vibrant, vivacious, ambitious person who finally learns that the desire for goodness and decency is not a superstition. If anything, Noel Airman, the boyfriend who quotes Freud at every opportunity, who is a true stereotype.
In addition to being (finally!) a book that allows religion and tradition to win out in their alleged war with modernity, MARJORIE MORNINGSTAR is just a damned good read. Wouk's style and precision are evident on every page.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Enjoyed reading this old time novel for my classics book club. Good example of cultural thinking in the 50s.Published 4 days ago by Mimi7
This is the first book and Noel Airman is the first male protagonist that I fell in love with, but, like too many high school romances, they're best left in high school. Read morePublished 4 days ago by Sheila
I loved this book when I was a teenager and I decided to read it again as a senior citizen. It's a great read about young romance and growing up. It wears well. Read morePublished 1 month ago by phoebesmom
A nostalgic look back at a late-teen favorite, which, at the time seemed more romantic than now. Yes, the times have changed! Read morePublished 1 month ago by Bonnie Flynn
Too long. Too boring. I read this as a teenager and enjoyed it so much when I was naive and foolish. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Roman Descendant
Wouk is, simply, a great writer. Majorie Morningstar is American Literature of high order. Great read as we see the troubled world of the 1930's through the eyes of a naiive New... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Nobarking