The Magnificent Ambersons (The Growth Trilogy, #2)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
read book* *Different edition

The Magnificent Ambersons (The Growth Trilogy #2)

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  5,016 ratings  ·  450 reviews
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize when it was first published in 1918, The Magnificent Ambersons chronicles the changing fortunes of three generations of an American dynasty. The protagonist of Booth Tarkington's great historical drama is George Amberson Minafer, the spoiled and arrogant grandson of the founder of the family's magnificence. Eclipsed by a new breed of developers...more
288 pages
Published (first published 1918)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Magnificent Ambersons, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Magnificent Ambersons

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson BurnettThe Metamorphosis by Franz KafkaPeter Pan by J.M. BarrieHowards End by E.M. ForsterA Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
Best Books of the Decade: 1910's
25th out of 183 books — 304 voters
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeMiddlesex by Jeffrey EugenidesThe Road by Cormac McCarthyThe Color Purple by Alice WalkerThe Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
Pulitzer Winners: Fiction & Novels
50th out of 87 books — 910 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Evan
First and last 100 pages are exquisite - as good as anything I've ever read. Middle section bogs down in some repetition and tedious dialogue as the world passes the Ambersons by and they fritter away their lives in clueless trivialities. Many readers will not be able to stand the uncompromising stubbornness of the spoiled Georgie Amberson Minafer. All in all, what a talent for description and grasp of the novel's time Tarkington has. The style pulls you right along, simple yet not simplistic. T...more
Misfit
Wow, just wow. This is what writing is supposed to be, although I'm having a terrible time putting my feelings into words. I loved the way the author used spoiled, self-centered George to show the reader the changes brought about by modern inventions and industrial growth, instead of telling us about these changes. How refreshing. I did like George a lot, but there were things he did to try to stop those changes in his life, to the point of alienating those he loved most, things that just make y...more
William Durden
It always cracks me up that this is the #100th book on the Modern Library top 100 list. I haven't actually read very many books on that list, but I'm always proud of the fact that I've read the one that just barely made it.
Darwin8u
This is one of those fantastic little classics (it won the Pulitzer Prizes second prize for the Novel category in 1919) that while not exactly ignored, certainly aren't read as frequently today as the author's talent should demand. It was made in 1942 into a movie by Orson Wells (his second film) so it does have that anchor to keep it from slipping further into the darkness of the past. I guess old fiction is like old families.

"Nothing stays or holds truly.
Great Caesar dead and turned to clay
...more
Jane
Where I got the book: ARC from publisher. Some spoilers in the review.

One of the most delightful aspects of the e-book revolution is the opportunity to rediscover once-loved novels that are no longer household names. Although they're usually available for free, I'm all in favor of publishers like Legacy Romance charging a low price for well-formatted digital versions. I can see that this trend will grow and competition will become fiercer, which is all good for the reader.

I had heard of the 1942...more
Tami
I just finished this book and I have to say that I actually choked down some emotion at the end of it, which surprised me. I think what got me the most is the regret felt by some characters and also the humanity shown by others. It is set in an important time in American history. A time of change and growth and development. We see a small "pretty" little midland town around the turn of the last century and the known family that pretty much rules everything. During the course of the book we see h...more
El
Apparently The Magnificent Ambersons (1918) is actually a part of a trilogy. The fact that I was not made aware of this until I had finished reading it makes me angry. (That's one of the problems with reading the Introduction after reading the book.) Additionally it seems silly to me to include the second book in a trilogy on the Modern Library's Top 100 List. The other two must really suck.

This is the story of the Amberson family and their fortune. We watch young George Amberson grow from a spo...more
Steve
Not so many people read Booth Tarkington these days. Too bad. He's got a lot to say about the way people are. It may seem a little dated on the surface, but so much of the human nature that he observes so well is timeless. I liked what this one said about character and comeuppances. (Maybe my word choices are a little dated, too. Comeuppances?)
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

The CCLaP 100: In which I read for the first time a hundred so-called "classics," then write reports on whether or not they deserve the label

Essay #65: The Magnificent Ambersons (1918), by Booth Tarkington

The story in a nutshell:
Originally published in 1918, Booth Tarkington's The Magnificent Ambersons tel...more
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
Winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1919, this book has always been on my vague to-be-read list. Now and then, I think I want to read all the Pulitzer winners, or fiction from the early 20th century, etc. etc. so I was excited to be part of the blog tour for this release. Somehow, I've managed to not only never read this book but also never see any of the film or t.v. versions, so I was really unsure of what I was getting into -- but I immediately loved Tarkington's writing from the first chapter.

The...more
Stephanie
Jun 01, 2008 Stephanie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Stephanie by: Book club
I did not get the point of this book until the end and then realized it was about how society changed dramatically during the industrial revolution. How the car changed the cities, why all of the beautiful old homes are in the worst parts of town. When I was done I was so glad I read it to better understand how American cities have developed.
Derek Davis
There's an odd undertone to this novel. The writing is generally superb, the characters beautifully realized, but...

Why is the main character, young George Amberson, so consistently repugnant (a dickhead would be an apt term) yet so well respected as he ruins the lives of those around him? Because he looks good? Because he has endless money? Because he has no ambition in life except to uphold the family name?

How is it that Tarkington's writing sparkles with wit and skewering social commentary,...more
Dusty
In 1919 Booth Tarkington won the Pulitzer for this book. A couple years later he won a second Pulitzer -- and become the first author to receive a second Pulitzer -- with Alice Adams. He was the nation's eminent writer of fiction. In the ninety years since then, however, Tarkington has become less and less a respected and talked-about writer, more and more a footnote in American literary history (and in Orson Welles biographies). Funny how his own fame so closely resembles that of the family of...more
Tim
Dec 01, 2008 Tim rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes Trollope, anyone being rocked by the changes in the world today
Recommended to Tim by: Orson Welles (though I never saw the movie.)
I seem to be reading novels about the failure of fortune and the passing of eras lately.

Like Silas Marner and The Tides of Mont St. Michel, The Magnificent Ambersons tells the story of a man who can begin to live only after he is broken, his sense of his place in the social order remade.

I love reading old books that are now largely forgotten. They give so much insight into an age. It's as much the aspects of the books that are time-bound as those that are timeless that I find fascinating.

The...more
Tressa
Aug 17, 2010 Tressa marked it as never-finished  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
I've been wanting to read this for years, but now I'm wondering if I should continue. It seems a little too obvious and over-the-top when introducing the shallow, elitist, jerk Georgie Amberson. It's just not a very subtly written book. I'm at the part where he just met a girl at a dance, a girl who seems more down-to-earth than most people Georgie hangs with--and every comment out of his mouth highlights what a snob he is. Just seems too pat, if you ask me.

This book is currently not grabbing m...more
SW
Elegant and brutal. The Magnificent Ambersons is set in the lavish American aristocracy in the years leading up to the revolution of the automobile. Like the countryside, Georgie Amberson, the protagonist, is born into opulence and over the course of the narrative is pulled from his blissful wealth and into the lonely and equally thankless dregs of the industrial world. Everything within the pages of The Magnificent Ambersons changes, mostly for the worst, according to the central characters. Ev...more
James Peavler
The 1919 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Literature is, on the surface, the story of George Amberson Minafer, the sole grandson of Major Amberson, the richest man in a Midwesterner city. It themes, on the other hand, are fascinating. What makes a classic novel great is when it reads and feels like a snapshot in time. This is one of those classics, showing the beginnings of the automobile industry and the urban sprawl that afflicted many towns and cities at the turn of the century.

There are vivi...more
Leona Heraty
Jan 23, 2013 Leona Heraty rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone! It's a wonderful story! :-)
Recommended to Leona by: Myself!
This wonderful story is set in a fictional Midwestern small town, and spans the years from around 1883 to about 1905. Booth Tarkington, the author, said that the "Midland" town in this story was really Indianapolis. The story focuses on the wealthy Amberson family, leading citizens of the town. They became rich because of their hard-working patriarch, Major Amberson, who started a thriving home building business after the Civil War.

Georgie, Major Amberson's arrogant, self-centered grandson, wan...more
carl  theaker



Now this is a great read capturing the heart, look and feel of middle America in the early 20th century; much like Main Street & Winesburg,Ohio, but more fun to read.

The decline of an upper class family reflected in the changes of middle America in the 1910s. Autos & professional workers as opposed to horse-drawn sleighs and gentry;
the town growing into an industrial city and erasing the former leading families under the coal soot that the factories bring.

Other observations that are si...more
Heather
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ensiform
The titular family is the most prosperous and powerful in town at the turn of the century. Young George Amberson Minafer, the patriarch’s grandson, is spoiled terribly by mother Isabel. Growing up arrogant, sure of his own worth and position, and totally oblivious to the lives of others, George falls in love with Lucy Morgan, a young though sensible debutant. But there is a long history between George’s mother and Lucy’s father, of which George is unaware. As the town grows to a city, industry t...more
Longfellow
This book is one of two Pulitzer Prize winners by Booth Tarkington. Its novelistic style is dated, in my opinion, by a reliance on plot devices rather than dynamic characters to move the narrative forward. In addition, I was challenged in trying to enjoy this book by the fact that George Amberson Minifer, the protagonist, is a real asshole. The last chapter was disappointing as well, using a seemingly arbitrary event to bring events to a conclusion.

But what perhaps redeems this book and makes i...more
Mark
#100 on the Modern Library Board's List of Best Novels. Written in 1918. "The Magnificent Ambersons" is the story of the collapse of a parvenu midwestern American family, and a dissection of American aristocracy. The novel makes obvious critiques of contemporary society which readers retrospectively believed to be profound (a necessary part of the canonization process for many novels, but one that feels consistently condescending, as if we're supposed to be convinced that the world's flaws are o...more
Karen
This is one of the best books I've read in a while. It is a story of family, wealth, power, and the industrialization of America. It is funny at times, tragic at others, and very readable throughout with its simple yet elegant style.

Even before I read this book, I knew I was going to love it. My favorite movie, The Royal Tenenbaums, drew inspiration from this (you can even see this in the similarity of their titles). The description of the book also reminded me of the wonderful Elizabeth Taylor...more
Maureen
the magnificent ambersons makes you think about how humans value things, and other people, and reputation, for what reason, and in what proportion. it is a book that i want to talk to other people about because i keep rolling it over in my mind, the choices and observations tarkington made in some cases baffle me, and i'm still not sure what to think, of it, the world, or myself.

had i not read penrod just prior to reading the magnificent ambersons i'm not sure i would have liked it as much as i...more
Felisa Rosa
I had never heard of this book when I bought it. It jumped out at me from the shelf of a thrift store. I liked the title. I liked the author's name, Booth Tarkington. I mean really? Booth Tarkington. I also liked the look of the book: rag pages, red canvas cover, gilt lettering. I bought it for two dollars. I figured it was a gamble, but I was feeling lucky.

When I finally picked up the book, I realized, to my surprise, that it was good. So good that I was impelled to look it up. Whereupon I disc...more
Erin Quinney
This one is on The Modern Library's List of Top 100 Novels of the 20th century. It was okay. I don't know that it qualifies as the best of anything. I suppose it made the list because it deals with a time when society was changing. An old family name was losing its power, being replaced by captains of industry and fathers of invention. It was a time when small respectable towns began to expand and it was no longer "the thing" to live in the center of town. Suburbia was on the horizon.

The Magnifi...more
Shawn Thrasher
Those Ambersons end up not being as magnificent as they liked to think of themselves, huh? If you've ever lived in a small town, you'll probably recognize some of the characters, although painted with broad strokes. Tarkington's novel is a one of wistfulness - the first pages are a nostalgic hymn to days of yore, when everyone knew everyone else, there weren't any foreigners, and "darkies" and everyone else knew their place. According to the Amberson family, their place was right on top, and th...more
Jennifer
I am dumbfounded as to why THIS novel is not held in as high regard as the vastly overrated Great Gatsby is in terms of being the quintessential American Novel. This was one of the finest written pieces of literature I have yet to encounter. The story opens in an unnamed midwestern town at the fin de siecle. Young and despicable, the protagonist George Amberson Minafer prefers "doing things" rather than "being things" and fails to see the end of his world as his family fortune is slowly overtake...more
Alison
I was going to read all the Pulitzer prize-winning novels out there, but after reading this one I'm not sure it's such a good idea. Tarkington writes beautiful prose, but this book pretty much defines the phrase, "a product of its time." OMG THE MOTORCAR IS REPLACING THE HORSE. OMG PEOPLE GET ELECTRICITY. OMG FACTORIES MAKE SMOG. I know it was written in 1918, but that doesn't make it any easier for me to read almost 100 years later.

The dated theme of the book might have been easier to take if t...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Store
  • His Family
  • The Able McLaughlins
  • Early Autumn: A Story of a Lady
  • Scarlet Sister Mary
  • In This Our Life
  • Honey in the Horn
  • Studs Lonigan
  • The Late George Apley
  • Journey in the Dark
  • Lamb in His Bosom
  • Now in November
  • Dragon's Teeth I (World's End)
  • Years of Grace
  • Guard of Honor
  • The Edge of Sadness
  • The Collected Stories of Jean Stafford
  • The Town
73021
Booth Tarkington was an American novelist and dramatist best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning novels The Magnificent Ambersons and Alice Adams.
More about Booth Tarkington...
Alice Adams Penrod Seventeen Penrod and Sam The Turmoil (The Growth Trilogy, #1)

Share This Book

“Gossip is never fatal until it is denied. Gossip goes on about every human being alive and about all the dead that are alive enough to be remembered, and yet almost never does any harm until some defender makes a controversy. Gossip's a nasty thing, but it's sickly, and if people of good intentions will let it entirely alone, it will die, ninety-nine times out of a hundred.” 60 likes
“Whatever does not pretend at all has style enough.” 49 likes
More quotes…