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The Gods of Newport

3.4 of 5 stars 3.40  ·  rating details  ·  866 ratings  ·  113 reviews
In the late nineteenth century, Newport, Rhode Island-with its giant marble mansions, lavish dinner parties, and vicious social climbing- is a summer playground of the very rich. Into this rarefied world comes infamous railroad mogul and robber baron Sam Driver. He wants his beautiful daughter to have the best Newport has to offer-even if that means breaking all the rules. ...more
Paperback, 480 pages
Published October 2nd 2007 by Signet (first published November 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,394)
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Susan
When I got this from the library, I didn't realize it was an abridged version. I despise these and would have preferred to hear ALL the words the author took the time and effort to pen. However, after finishing this, I felt like I hear a whole story. That is to say, the story flowed smoothly and the actions on the part of the characters was logical - and interesting.

I plan to get the printed book and read it as Newport and the gilded age history are something I find very interesting. It appears
...more
Benjamin Thomas
This is an historical novel taking place at the end of the gilded age in Newport, Rhode Island, home to the massively rich, both inherited wealth and newly acquired by robber barons and the like. It generally takes place from 1893 through 1897 with one flash back sequence used to show how one of the main characters worked his way to riches and thus justify his place in Newport society.

This period in US history is rife with change. Rapid changes in technology, political points of view, and world
...more
Thom Swennes
As a long time fan of John Jakes I started reading his novel, The Gods of Newport, with enthusiastic expectation. His story-telling talent wasn’t disappointing as his words ran beneath my eyes, eating up page after page, chapter after chapter and his story of the rich crust of American society stimulated my imagination. Jakes has occasionally been criticized for his liberal use of historic personages in his narratives. I admire the way he weaves history and fiction into an entertaining mix. The ...more
Karyl
The Gods of Newport is a light, easy, fast-moving read on the occupants of Newport during the Gilded Age. It was fun to read a novel based on the people whose "cottages" I had toured when I lived in Newport, but it really made me homesick for my former town. I kept trying my best to reconcile the Newport in the novel with the Newport I knew; I would have loved to see a map of the city at that time.

That said, I didn't really enjoy Jakes's writing style. It felt rather choppy, and the plot was fa
...more
Richard
Oct 30, 2014 Richard rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who like romcoms/rags-to-riches stories
Recommended to Richard by: elderly former socialite
This kind of pulp fiction is not to my taste, but it was forced on me by elderly friend, long-time tennis player, and one-time socialite, properly raised as a scion of old money.

The book, significantly predictable, revolves around the interrupted love of the daughter of a nouveau riche railroad magnate and an Irish son of a hotel maid from after the Civil War until the turn of the twentieth century. This allows the father who worked with Jay Gould and Jim Fisk to practice some rough-necked stunt
...more
Christie
Boring!!!!!!! Tara gave me this because of the couple months that I spent in Newport. The portions that talked about Newport was kind of interesting since I had seen the mansions and walked the cliffs but the story was weak and wordy and the typical short fall of a male author.
Jeanne Beaudet
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alice
I absolutely loved John Jakes's Kent Family Chronicles and the North and South trilogy. I learned more about American history from those series than from any school history book. I was hoping for another dose of his historical fiction, but this book just didn't live up to my expectations. I found the characters rather bland and predictable. The sprinkling of history regarding the nabobs of Newport ran true to form, but much of it sounded rather forced. Overall, I don't really recommend this book ...more
Jan
Took me forever to read, got more interesting as it went along.
Story. Starts in 1893, railroads were being built, money was being made and lost, people were scamming everyone in different railroad stocks, people made money, people lost money. One who came from nothing was Sam, he made his millions. Married an actress, had a daughter. The mum died and he raised his daughter in luxury. Mother had always wanted to be a society lady, so he spent millions in NewPort to introduce his daughter to all "
...more
Tara
The cover of The Gods of Newport makes it look more trashy and ridiculous than it really is.

When I first visited Newport, I fell in love with it. After we got home, I looked around for some books about Newport during the Gilded Age and came across this novel. The descriptions of Newport society during the late nineteenth century, when the super rich were building "cottages" along Bellevue Avenue (multi-million dollar mansions that were only used for a 6-8 week summer season each year) and throw
...more
Beth Bedee
[EDIT 2ND READ]
After a recent trip to Newport, I decided to revisit this book. I had no prior knowledge of the period or place for my first read-through. However, this time, I have the visual image as well as several tourist books under my belt. This book is very thoroughly researched. It makes me appreciate John Jakes even more now. When you're reading one of his novels and you encounter a historic figure, there is a 99.9% chance that that person really said or did what was in the book. At the
...more
rinabeana
Synopsis: Sam Driver is one of the nouveaux riche who tries to break into high society in Newport, RI, where the richest of the rich spend their summers. His concern is for his daughter, who seeks society’s acceptance, but will it be what she really wanted?

Comments: I’ve been to Newport and seen some of the mansions (what opulence!) so I had some perspective for reading this book, which always helps. As usual, Jakes wove his fictional characters into history’s framework, portraying such personag
...more
Katy M
I love John Jakes. this isn't his best book, in my opinon, but it's not his worst either. I don't fully love any of the characters, but with the exception of Count Orlove, I don't fully hate any of them either. And I found my feelings about a lot of them changing from page to page, keeping me engaged and wondering about their true characters throughout the book, which made them seem very human.
Leigh
Jan 31, 2009 Leigh rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2009
Definitely not Jakes' best work. The historical details were, as always, fabulous, but the story that he built around them was bland. The characters felt generic and two-dimensional; unfortunately, the real-life characters of the era, many of whom do appear here, were just so colorful and outlandish that it is difficult to create fictional characters that can compete.

Further, the 'forbidden romance' storyline never took off for me. If there was a moment when this unlikely pair fell for one anot
...more
Debbie
Set mainly in NYC and Newport, RI, during the turn of the century, the rich of the the Gilded Age are prone to excesses and live in sharp contrast to the poor who exist only to serve them. Other than the interesting setting, this is a typical poor boy-meets-rich girl who fall in love but are torn apart by the rich girl’s father. Nouveau-riche Sam Driver is a master manipulator who will do anything at any cost to secure his daughter Jenny’s place in high society. Having visited Newport on vacatio ...more
E Wilson


As in so many historical novels I read, the historical facts and
details of the society at that time are much more interesting to me
than the characters or the plot.

The characters in this book are a pretty unlikable lot. Sam Driver
had made a fortune by hook and by crook. Now he dreams of being an
accepted member of the Newport society. His daughter, Jenny also gets
into the social climbing game and is thrilled when she is accepted by
some of the mavens of Newport. Jenny's romance with the poor Iri
...more
Joe
This is a good book and an entertaining story. It's not quite on par with his other books though, but I wasn't really surprised. The character development is not as good, it's harder to find someone in the book to actually like besides the one obvious protagonist. Just when the book actually starts to get really good, he wraps it all up in a couple quick chapters. It does prevent the book from dragging, but it also leaves out a lot of plot that could be developed.
It's a very entertaining and ver
...more
Kaitlyn Davis
3.5! Hard to beat North & South, but I really enjoyed reading about the opulence of newport society set against such a dramatic love story! Started slow, but by the time I was a third of the way through, I was enthralled!
Betty
I really enjoyed this book, but for some reason authors leave me wishing for a different ending. Oh well. :) Good book, thinking about reading his Bastard series.
Kaye
Having visited the mansions and heard the stories of the wealth in Newport, R.I. I wanted a book that would bring it all to life. This wasn't it. The story starts with a fictional Sam Driver who has made his millions in railroads but wants his daughter to be accepted by the Newport society matrons. His daughter was bland and I never got into Prince, the bad boy, uneducated, love interest which is large part of the story. Neither Prince or Sam are nice men but at least Sam is interesting and his ...more
Kurt Young
My first, and last John Jakes book. A fascinating time period with interesting stories in any direction and Jakes gives us a sea of people we'd run from if we were forced to spend time with. Drags on and on. And on. Gets more disagreeable the longer it goes.
Sarah
John Jakes is one of my favorite authours, largely in part to the North and South Trilogy. This moving epic of historical fiction chronicles the lives of social climbers in Newport at the turn of the nineteenth century. Personally, I thought it was less smutty than the North and South books. The storyline is gripping, and it certainly has an appropriate ending. By this I mean that Jakes submits a moral message in the ending that is neither preachy nor pedantic. Instead, it puts the lives of soci ...more
Jenn

The Gods of Newport is the story of a man trying to break into the upper echelon of New York and Newport Society for his wife's memory and his daughter's future. Only he realizes that these things come at a price.

Once again, I felt John Jakes did an exemplary job of researching the time period he wrote about. I know quite a bit about Gilded Age society and appreciated how well he crafted the story. Some of the characters were slightly irritating over the top caricatures, as well as some overtly
...more
Tammy
Feb 26, 2013 Tammy rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: historical fiction lovers
This is the first historical fiction book by John Jakes that I felt had that touch of historical romance. Rich daughter falls in love with poor boy. This book is centered in the 1890's Newport Rhode Island summer community. The millionaire mansions called cottages. The opulent yachts, four in hand, extravagant parties (even for pets), the flaunting of wealth. The who is who and either your in or your out. The poor that hates the rich but needs them for their living. One man determined to have hi ...more
Virginia Albanese
His usual easy read with predictable outcomes. Read as audio book.
Rosie
Pretty enjoyable. Historical.
Lorie Richards
The history was interesting. The writing rather shallow
Sally
Rich character development and wonderful setting description. Story was a bit dry, but the romance (and result) made up for it!
Joyce
Borrowed from the public library. Adult fiction.
Being from New England, I thought this would automatically be a good story. It was good once I got into the story about halfway through the book. There are so many characters, making it difficult to follow, lots of crudeness, especially in relationships, but point well made and the Biblical standard of Exodus 20:1 upheld. Love story, effects of wealth, and the wealth was factual, historical. I have never been to Newport, Rhode Island, only heard ab
...more
Sarah
I'm a John Jakes fanatic and I can't believe I somehow missed this title being published. For some reason, I love a good epic, and Jakes always delivers. This time he focuses on Newport and the rich people who live there. We've all heard the big names--Vanderbilts, Astors, etc. Sam Driver is new to the scene because of his railroad money and he's determined to find a husband for his lovely daughter. They infiltrate the rich and famous Newport society but find it isn't exactly what they had hoped ...more
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John Jakes, the author of more than a dozen novels, is regarded as one of today’s most distinguished writers of historical fiction. His work includes the highly acclaimed Kent Family Chronicles series and the North and South Trilogy. Jakes’s commitment to historical accuracy and evocative storytelling earned him the title of “the godfather of historical novelists” from the Los Angeles Times and le ...more
More about John Jakes...
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