Show Boat
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Show Boat

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  354 ratings  ·  38 reviews
Edna Ferber's classic paean of love to the Mississippi River and the showboats that ran up and down it is once again available in hardcover as a facsimile of the first edition. First published in 1926, this timeless tale of the Cotton Blossom, Cap'n Andy, his shrewd wife Parthy, and their beautiful daughter Magnolia her remarkable daughter Kim was made famous on Broadway i...more
Hardcover, Facsimile of the 1926 edition, 398 pages
Published May 1st 2007 by Gramercy (first published 1926)
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 Show Boat, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Show Boat

My First Travel Angelic Airline Adventures by Anna OthitisSeven Wonders Of The World by Anna OthitisMurder on the Orient Express / Cards on the Table / The A.B.C... by Agatha ChristieThe Little Engine That Could by Watty PiperA Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
Trains, Planes, and Automobiles
28th out of 155 books — 81 voters
A Midsummer Night's Dream by William ShakespeareHamlet by William ShakespeareRosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom StoppardNight at the Vulcan by Ngaio MarshValley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
Thespians
14th out of 105 books — 17 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 691)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Emily
You know that seminal story from your childhood? The one you watched/read/listened to so often that your parents were ready to bribe you out of doing so again in order to save their own sanity? For me, that story was Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein's Show Boat. Specifically, a tape-recording of Show Boat that my dad dubbed for me off a library CD. I still have that tape; I listened to it so often as a kid that any articulation the bass may have had is completely worn away to a muddy "wahmmm" s...more
Patty
This book took me away from a difficult childhood and helped me escape into the world of books. It was a large and involved three generation, post civil war story of a strong, rigid Parhenia Hawks whose husband wanted to purchase a showboat and involved their children in the world of theatre. She was opposed. They travelled on the "Cotton Blossom" down the mighty Mississppi. Edna Ferber is a forgotten author now, but very popular in her day.This book went on to play on Broadway. You might know h...more
Pamela
If I was going to be a river . . . I’d want to be the Mississippi . . . Because the Illinois, it’s always the same. But the Mississippi is always different. It’s like a person that you never know what they’re going to do next, and that makes them interesting.”

Having majored in English with a minor in theatre, reading Edna Ferber’s 1926 “Show Boat” tickled my fancy with nostalgic delight. And having had the pleasure of seeing Hollywood’s adaptation along with a lyrical production performed live,...more
Rachel
This is the book on which the perpetually-revived musical is based. The plotlines aren't really all that similar. I can easily understand why this was such a popular book in 1926. It's a sweeping story of three generations of theater folk. There's plenty of drama to go around; in a lot of ways it felt like any number of best-selling novels I've read.

The main issue for the modern reader is the racial aspects of this book. It was really ahead of it's time in its portrayal of blacks (by a white au...more
Kathryn
My mother always told me that the spelling of my name came from Kathryn Grayson,
who was in the 1951 film of Show Boat. And as a child living along the Ohio River, I remember the Delta Queen stopping and giving open-air concerts from the boat. But I never saw the Kathryn Grayson movie, nor read the book, until now; and it’s a wonderful book, especially for a former river town girl to read (and review).

The book starts in the 1890′s, with the birth of Kim Ravenel on a show boat; she was given her u...more
Martin
I think I love Edna Ferber’s ideas more than actually reading her novels. This is the third novel of hers that I have read (the others were “So Big” and “Cimarron”) and it seemed to take forever. I felt like I had to force myself to read a chapter a day. I love the idea of women who made our nation great, not by ambition but strength of character and rising above the dire circumstances of their marriages. I love her expansive language, put to especially grand use in the first half of “Show Boat”...more
Dan
I think most people are familiar with the musical. I'd seen the movie but I hadn't realized until I had gone to a live performance that the musical was based on an actual novel. I thought it was a story especially written for a musical. I'm not sure about the musical, but the story is a great story. It is really about the way women have found themselves trapped with men. In the previous age of Western civilization, men had all the power. They were expected to run their own lives and the members...more
Karen Giauque
The musical was popular when I was a kid and I probably saw the movie, but don't remember for sure. However, the book is quite different from the movie/musical. Edna Ferber was popular when I was growing up and I like reading her in the same way I like reading Dorothy Canfield Fisher.
Currit
Unusual and very American. The characters are characters. What can I say? There is nothing predictable about this story. Somehow it captures the feeling of frontier America and the coming modern age. I'm a fan.
Cindy
I think I am going to love everything I read by Ferber. Great writing, great stories, great characters, what is there not to love?
Andra Constantin
An amazing story about what Show Boat life on the Mississippi river meant and how it evolved in the course of about 40 years.

The book follows the story of the Hawks family - the owners of the Cotton Blossom Floating Palace Theater - for 3 generations, allowing the reader to be part of births (of children, of boats, of crews), departures (deaths, people leaving, etc), love stories and most impressive of the yearly travel up and down the Mississippi river and all the little towns where the Floatin...more
Laura
Feb 21, 2011 Laura rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: Bettie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Michiel
As other have pointed out, the book was way better than the musical, though I love the musical, especially the music.

I would like to have given 3.5 stars. It's not quite a 4 star, and it may be that I read just one too many Ferber novels in a row to appreciate this one to the fullest.

What I especially liked about this book is how funny it is. I had no idea that Showboat was funny, and I'm not talking slapstick funny. Ferber's narrator puts things very tongue-in-cheek, and though I think this kee...more
K.M. Weiland
I think there's a little of everyone's childhood in this book. The magic part at any rate. I've never lived on a showboat and have no real connection to rivers in general and the Mississippi in particular. There's really very little in the main character with which I personally relate my own history. But the nectar-sweet nostalgia of this story still pulled me in, with its portrayal of a charmed childhood and the inevitable progression into the often harsh bubble-burstings of adulthood. As a nov...more
K.M. Weiland
I think there's a little of everyone's childhood in this book. The magic part at any rate. I've never lived on a showboat and have no real connection to rivers in general and the Mississippi in particular. There's really very little in the main character with which I personally relate my own history. But the nectar-sweet nostalgia of this story still pulled me in, with its portrayal of a charmed childhood and the inevitable progression into the often harsh bubble-burstings of adulthood. As a nov...more
Gina Boyd
I had no idea this was a novel until I heard an NPR story a few weeks ago about the DC revival of the musical, where they mentioned it was based on the book. I'm not sure why I was so interested to give it a read, because I've never seen a production of the show--my only association with Show Boat up to this point was the song "Old Man River." That said, though, I'm glad the library had a copy (from 1968), and that I took the time.

The novel is kind of like a river, flowing along peacefully with...more
Sally Mouzon
This is a really wonderful read. While the writing is in many ways very much of its time, the novel centers on very strong women characters and includes clear eyed glimpses into the underbelly of late 19th/early 20th century society.

For those who are familiar with the musical, it is only loosely based on the book. The Mississippi is the main character.
Jason
Great book about the life of a woman who grew up on a showboat on the Mississippi. Because it was written in 1926, the verbiage is modern enough for anyone to understand, but different enough to still feel like a classic.

My one warning would be that if you are sensitive to racial slurs, you should not read this book. Because of the setting and time period, combined with when it was written, the author uses them often. It shouldn't catch anyone off guard considering that the subject of the book d...more
Cindy
I loved this book. Edna made me feel as though it was me riding down the Mississippi and living on the Cotton Blossom as an actress. I need to find this as the musical and watch it.
L.
The story of a woman and the loser she gets saddled with.
Sdhall0824
Good read. Can't wait to read the rest of her works.
Amy Wolf
No one is going to claim that Ferber was the equal of a Faulkner. BUT...she writes some damned good stories, as in this tale of a traveling showboat and its denizens, including Julie, Nollie & suave gambler Gaylord Ravinal. Of course led to the Jermone Kern /Oscar Hammerstein musical masterpiece Showboat
Nikki
This is a great read for those of you who like the whole "compare/ contrast" thing from novel to screenplay. I find it hard to enjoy the picture or perforamce as well as the one that Ferber paints in my head, so I usually lean towards the original format of the novel.
Mom Wangsgard
Edna Ferber writes nice stories about interesting people in American settings. I enjoyed this book as an easy read with not alot of meat. If your book club has people with mother issues it might spark lively conversation.
Nick
EDNA FERBER knows how to write a book. She takes you on a journey. An epic journey spanning so many years and really telling a terrifically captivating story. SO MUCH BETTER THAN THE MUSICAL.
Emily
Five stars for the first part of the book, the show boat story. Three stars for the rest. Gaylord is such a chump. And without Parthy, the story is hardly worth reading. She's absolute gold.
Barbara Short
I really like Edna Ferber. This was a fun trip down the Mississippi, which a world I know nothing about. And I had no idea this is where the musical came from.
Rose West
Jun 07, 2009 Rose West rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
This book is so much better than the old musical! The storyline is actually very different. Not my favorite Ferber, but still very American and always interesting.
Andrew
This is definitely one of my favorite Ferber books. I especially liked the act of the story which takes place in Chicago.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 23 24 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Sal Mineo: A Biography
  • The Tide of Life
  • Ever After (Williamsburg, #3)
  • The Friendly Persuasion
  • Inamorata
  • Magnificent Obsession
  • The Third Sister: A Continuation of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility
  • An Experiment In Treason (Sir John Fielding, #9)
  • From the Terrace
  • The Leatherstocking Tales (The Deerslayer, The Last of the Mohicans, The Pathfinder, The Pioneers, The Prairie, and others)
  • Spider Dance (Irene Adler, #8)
  • The Last Duel: A True Story of Crime, Scandal, and Trial by Combat in Medieval France
  • In This Our Life
  • Auntie Mame
  • Random Winds
  • Dark Before the Rising Sun
  • The Winter People
  • The Green Years
86241
Edna Ferber was an American novelist, short story writer and playwright. Her novels were popular in her lifetime and included the Pulitzer Prize-winning So Big (1924), Show Boat (1926; made into the celebrated 1927 musical), Cimarron (1929; made into the 1931 film which won the Academy Award for Best Picture), and Giant (1952; made into the 1956 Hollywood movie).
More about Edna Ferber...
So Big Giant Saratoga Trunk Cimarron Fanny Herself

Share This Book