Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

Anna Kerrigan is twelve years old when she first meets Dexter Styles. At the time she was awed by his home by the sea, and felt the undercurrents of something unnamed but menacing between Dexter and her father.

Years later when she meets Dexter again, Anna is working at the Brooklyn Naval Yards, the country is at war, and she and her mother have been struggling to survive after her father disappeared from their lives.  Anna is determined to become a diver who repairs damaged ships underwater, an exclusive and dangerous occupation but one that is now open to women since so many men are now overseas fighting in the war. Her encounter, however, with Dexter raises old memories and opens new understandings about the dangerous life her father led and the reasons for his leaving.

As Anna negotiates her life, the challenges of becoming a diver and being taken seriously in a man’s world, she begins to understand the complex choices that affect our lives, the consequences of choices that are difficult to foresee, and to accept the love and support she needs from unexpected sources.

Egan has written a lovely book about the challenges of being a woman during a time of fluid social change. Although Egan talks about the challenges that Anna faces and her life is by no means easy, there was a fairy tale quality to her life where everything works out in the best possible way with very few negative consequences. It wasn’t until the very end where she needs to really confront a major decision that I felt that the grittier side of Anna’s character emerged and I wished that side of her had been more apparent throughout the book. but aside from that, this book is a fascinating look at women at work during the war and the challenges they faced and the way gangsters, unions and even bankers needed to change the way they did business during this transformative moment in history.

Brenda’s Rating: *** 1/2( 31/2 Stars out of 5)

Recommend this book to: Sharon, Marian and Keith

Book Study Worthy? Yes

Read in ebook format.



This entry was posted in Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Prize Winner, Prize winner, Romance, Suspense and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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