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Books Editorial

manhattanbeach.jpg Manhattan Beach

Jennifer Egan, Corsair

Jennifer Egan pulled off all manner of stylistic fireworks with her (excellent) 2010 novel Welcome to the Goon Squad, but her latest – save for a bit of timeline chopping – is a more conventional read. Set during the 1930s and 40s it’s a family drama of sorts, featuring the Kerrigans. We first meet Anna when she is only 12 years old, but follow her as she gets older, war breaks out and she manages to land herself a job at the Brooklyn shipyards. Anna’s sister is severely disabled, her mother is a retired dancer, and her father earns a crust by nefarious means which brings him in to contact with the kind of men you definitely wouldn’t like to meet down a dark alley. It makes for an absorbing narrative with Anna a stoic hero we can really get behind as she tries to do right by her family while also learning the ropes at the shipyard. Egan also deftly mixes noir thriller elements and forays into war drama into the mix to give us a slice of historical fiction that grips throughout.