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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  310 ratings  ·  59 reviews
Gloria, a recent college graduate, class of '57, has everything a girl could want. Expected to make a brilliant marriage to a wealthy but conventional man, Gloria finds herself torn between society's expectations and her own search for a future that is both passionate and fulfilling. Her quest uncovers the intensity of desires, the gift of intellectual accomplishment, and...more
Hardcover, 643 pages
Published September 7th 2000 by Soho Press (first published 1998)
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OK, before we start, I think it should be made clear that I want to BE Gloria Cotter...her blend of beauty, perspicacity, wit and emotional depth is the template for everything I strive to be. Like Gloria, I was a precocious child; like Gloria, I found that being a small adult thrown in with a pack of near-feral kids who seemed hellbent on either assimilating or crushing all in their path necessitated adaptive behavior from a young age; and, like Gloria Cotter, I have a heart and head that are o...more
The author did a great job of capturing period details, but the book was much much wordier than it needed to be. Also, he spent so much time emphasizing Gloria's great ability to "play the game" and act like a perfect society girl that it was easy to lose sight of what was supposed to make her interesting, which was her love of poetry and desire for a PhD. I didn't end up liking her as much as I'd expected to.
I loved this book, beyond anything I could have anticipated. My initial hope was that I could get into it; little did I know that I'd be transported to the 1950s so deeply and effectively. This was exactly the book I was looking to read: engrossing, detailed, nuanced, dynamic, smart. What a satisfying read!
Feb 26, 2010 Heather rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: English majors, sorority girls, coming-of-age enthusiasts
Ahhhhh … this book is special to me for so many reasons. First off, I read parts of it on a bus trip from Düsseldorf to Paris. It speaks volumes for the power of a good book that I, many times, chose to read rather than look out the window at the gorgeous unfamiliar countryside. Even though I was in college in the late 90s, I could totally relate to the main character Gloria’s emotions as she traversed her journey as a college girl in 1950s Virginia. The author not only captured what it was like...more
I don't even know what to say besides that I wish I was Gloria Cotter.

This book is pure heaven if you like to read coming of age novels. It's 600+ pages so it's not a fast read, but I honestly prefer it that way. You get so deep inside Gloria's mind you forget who you are.

I can't believe this was written by a man. It was just..perfect. I love Gloria's flaws, and how she had to be someone other than herself to fit in. I loved that she was an English major in a sorority full of girls that weren't...more
I really liked this book initially and wanted it to be the book I was hoping it would be. Premise follows a steel heiress and her plight to 'find herself'. Author does a good job really placing you in the characters' shoes, he changes the point of view periodically. The book was going swimmingly until around the 200pg mark and it took hard right. The author introduces characters that are verbally and sexually abusive/manipulative. It goes away for a little while and returns with force. Ifthe aut...more
I didn't love it as much as Maillard's near-perfect Clarinet Polka, but I didn't expect to. Nonetheless, it's pretty incredible. And is it just me, or can this guy write some fantastic non-sex scenes?!
Probably my favorite novel of all-time. I read it again every summer and have since I was fifteen.
This was dark chocolate: rich, delicious, decadent, and turns out, it's good for you. Loved it.
I picked this book up at the Bargain Books one day because it was a brick--I love long complicated books as a rule--and because I was intrigued by the hardcover version of cover art, and now I only wish I'd purchased multiple copies, as mine is starting to tip and sway as the spine crumbles. The first time through, I thought I'd made a mistake, even at half price but finished it anyway...and promptly read it all again as I'd been sucked into the book and its premise. I've been hooked since...and...more
First of all, let me point out that this edition of the book is deceptively long. It looks like a fairly standard paperback, but it is over 600 pages, which I didn't realize until I started to wonder why it was taking me so long to read it.

Gloriais, in essence, a coming of age period piece. It is set in the late 50's and really seems to capture the mores and attitudes of wealthy mid-century Americans. Gloria struggles to find her identity amid the expectations of her family and society, but the...more
This book really caught me off guard. I will admit that I have a tendency to (and I mean this in the most literal of ways) judge books by their cover, and I wasn't that interested in what seemed like it would be a generic coming of age story about some debutante.
Gloria, though, is hardly generic and certainly not your average debutante. The author beautifully handled the task of making Gloria an intelligent, thoughtful young woman while keeping her ever mindful of her image and how she chooses t...more
Coming of age story of Gloria Cotter during the 1950's and 60's before the women's movement--well written, developed and believable characters. One of the best books with a female protagonist written by a man that I've ever read.

I wasn't constantly thinking, "she wouldn't do/think/be that way."

Long, but enjoyable easy read. More of a character study than anything else, so if you love a fast moving plot, Gloria isn't for you. Only three stars because tho I'll always think of Gloria fondly, she...more
I felt at home with this story. I felt as if I were living with Gloria, or rather WERE Gloria. Within a couple of pages, I could not stop to think, let alone do anything remotely resembling responsiblity. I was hooked until the last page, and returned for a second and third time, anticipating what I knew was coming, but yet always, always surprised. Everytime I read this book, I run into something I hadn't caught the times before. And the storyline itself is so captivating and so dreamy in a sen...more
I love love love this book! So much so that after I read my sisters copy I went to buy my own copy but found it was out of print. The book, for whatever reason, never got the publicity it deserves. To make a long story short, my sister contacted Mr. Maillard, who teaches at a university in Canada, because she couldn't find a copy. He sent her one, signed by him, for free!! So, after she gave it to me, I looked up his email address at his university (I know, stalker behavior, but I wanted to than...more
While I initially enjoyed this book I began to weary of it. It needed to be pruned.
Ruth Michel
This is a long book - an is a good read - set in 1957 or 1958. Small town privileged country club family - oldest daughter home after graduating from college.

All the constraints of wearing the right thing, being beautiful, and she is further hampered by being smart and ambitious.

Very interesting snap shot of that era - and of course she is about to hit the 1960's when she goes to Columbia in the fall. I really wanted to follow her through all that, but some how by the end, I knew she would be ok...more
Gary Street
Very well written. However the ending gets a little "over the top".
There were things I liked about this novel, but I think it was at least 200 pages too long. It was repetitive and the parts delving into Gloria's parents characters felt like long winded unnecessary distractions. Also the sexual assault scenes were disturbingly graphic-- had I known it was going to be like that I wouldn't have picked it up.
However, I truly enjoyed Professor Bolton's character, Gloria's eccentric British English professor. I definitely could have benefited from knowing a Professo...more
Two voracious readers recommended this book. While reading it, I checked several times to make sure we were reading the same book. I found it excessively verbose and tedious, and I could not relate to the characters on any level. If I never hear the word crinolines again, it won't be too soon. Clearly I was missing something special about this book. If it hadn't come highly recommended, it is doubtful I would have pushed through. I enjoyed the literary discussions, but that was about it. Roundin...more
I read this quite some time ago, but remember being completely absorbed in it and the title character.

Although somewhat stereotypical in that it follows the coming of age of a beautiful wealthy girl in the 50s and 60s, the book is written intelligently and with often haunting insight. The events that take place are a bit turbulent and strange at times but it's really the character's narrative built around and in reaction to these events that I was drawn to.
A social history/coming of age novel about a girl growing up in the 1950s. What's amazing about it is that it was a) written by a man, and b) never gets tired, even though it's more than 500 pages. Everyone from my little sister to my 80-year-old neighbor has borrowed it and returned it tattered. I think it's because the narrator, like many of us, goes from thinking about classical mythology to a new mascara over the course of a conversation.
Deborah LaRoche
A friend suggested this book, saying it was an amazingly underappreciated novel that she knew I would love. I'm glad I trusted her opinion, because while the book is a time committment indeed, it was beautifully written and has become one of my all-time favorites. I was sucked in to the story immediately and remember having actual feelings of panic/relief during some of the more stressful scenes. I would recommend it to anyone.
Elizabeth Mascia
Found this book on a summer reading list --- typically books like this appeal to me... a character I can become attached to; somewhat fanciful and escapist with references to a time gone by. With that said, I got 3/4 of the way through and put the book down to never pick it up again. At some point I tired of it and couldn't help but think that the author loved Gloria much more than I did.
Wow, it's been quite awhile since it took me so long to finish a book. This one was slow reading for me. It was very different from what I usually read and even though I finished it last night, I'm still not sure entirely how I felt about this coming-of-age story in the 50's. Gloria is a unique character , to be sure, and I'm glad the ending left off where it did. Not your typical heroine.
So I am about to be a college freshmen and this book was the exact thing that i needed in order to relax and not stress about my future. If Gloria could make her own path in life then why cant I! I suggest this book to any person who is having a difficult time in their life, this book will help you see that great thing are waiting for you once to tackle the hard tomes straight on!
Jul 22, 2007 Michelle rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: EVERYONE!!!
Shelves: favorites
One of my top 5 books of all time, if not my very favorite. I read this book at least once a year. A very in depth look at one young woman's life as develops into womanhood in the 1950s/60s. Even more amazing that it is written by a man. This is an incredible piece of fiction and I think everyone should read it. I have never felt so passionate about a book before.
Kate SouthernBelleSimple
i adored this book and its main character, gloria. i cannot say enough good things about it. she is a heroine in every sense as she comes of age in a strange time and place. it is one of the smartest books i've ever read (for a fiction novel) and it left me wanting to learn more about the topics that gloria explores and studies. i could read it again and again.
Apr 09, 2008 Nicole rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all
Gloria is the story of a sorority girl that lives both the charmed life and one of trouble. She is the polished socialite and the incredibily intelligent student. But her journey from wall flower youth to charmed sorority girl to troubled college graduate that has to balance family, school, beau and future is engaging and disarming.
Why didn't this book get more attention? I had never heard of either it or the author when it was recommended to me, but it's a book that I would think should have pretty broad appeal--a completely riveting, lyrical and highly detailed coming-of-age epic. The 50s upper-class West Virginia country club set is beautifully portrayed too.
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