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Marjorie Morningstar Paperback – June 15, 1992

4.2 out of 5 stars 229 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Novel by Herman Wouk, published in 1955, about a woman who rebels against the confining middle-class values of her industrious American-Jewish family. Her dream of being an actress ends in failure. She ultimately forfeits her illusions and marries a conventional man with whom she finds sufficient contentment as a suburban wife and mother, thus finally coming to accept her parents' values. -- The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Herman Wouk's acclaimed novels include the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Caine Mutiny; Marjorie Morningstar; Don't Stop the Carnival; Youngblood Hawke; The Winds of War; War and Remembrance; Inside, Outside; The Hope; The Glory; and A Hole in Texas.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 584 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books; Reissue edition (June 15, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316955132
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316955133
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (229 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,857 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Not often does a book come along that chronicles the experience and events of a fictional character's life so intricately, that you feel as if your family photo album is just not complete without a picture of that person. That, in a nutshell, is Marjorie Morningstar.
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.
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Format: Paperback
Perhaps the best line of this novel comes in the final section as author Herman Wouk takes a satiric poke at himself and says of his title character, "You couldn't write a play about her that would run a week, or a novel that would sell a thousand copies. There's no angle." Of course, the angle is that Marjorie Morningstar is every girl who ever dreamed a dream, who aspired to a great career, and wanted to marry the love of her life. As a reader, I was caught up in her life when I first met her at age 17 till the book's closing when 39-year old Marjorie kisses life-long friend Wally goodbye. I was thrilled to be a part of her life at her graduation from Hunter College, at the hysterically funny yet religiously insightful Seder, at the thrilling summer stock camp known as Southwind, and at every step of her tumultuous love affair with Noel Airman. From the heights of Central Park West to the seedy walk-up apartment in Paris, the reader is swept into Marjorie's life as she chases her dream to become not only a Broadway star but also Noel's wife. Wouk has surrounded her with a remarkably well-drawn cast of supporting characters including her unforgettable Uncle Samson-Aaron, her sometimes friend Marsha, her loving but bewildered parents, and Mike Eden, the friend who forces her to look at her Jewish heritage.
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.
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By A Customer on September 4, 1999
Format: Paperback
I first read Marjorie Morningstar five or six years ago, and have reread it several times since. In my opinion it's an all-time classic. Mr. Wouk does an excellent job on character development and also vividly describes American (or at least New York) values and aspirations from the 1930s to the post-war days of the 1950s. Mr. Wouk artfully manages to keep the plot flowing throughout the (large) book by covering a broad range of topics and scenes yet, at the same time, not wandering too far from the book's central theme.
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.
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Format: Paperback
I'm not the typical reader for this kind of book. As a 22-year-old male who picked up this book because free copies of it were avaiable at my Hillel, I expected this book to be at best an acceptable, mindless read for dentists' visits, at worst dated drivel. But MARJORIE MORNINGSTAR changed a lot of the way I viewed the world.
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.
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