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Heyday Heyday Heyday

3.50  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,015 Ratings  ·  248 Reviews
"Heyday" is a brilliantly imagined, wildly entertaining tale of America's boisterous coming of age-a sweeping panorama of madcap rebellion and overnight fortunes, palaces andbrothels, murder and revenge-as well as the story of a handful of unforgettable characters discovering the nature of freedom, loyalty, friendship, and true love.
In the middle of the nineteenthcentury,
ebook, 0 pages
Published March 6th 2007 by Random House (first published 2007)
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Jan 09, 2008 Mary rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was not worth the 800+ pages and God knows how many hours I spent on reading it (I'm a masochist who has to finish a book, even if it's not enjoyable reading it). Anderson clearly hopes this is at the level of "Ragtime" or even "The Alienist," but it's neither as well written or entertaining to read as either of those books. At best it's like fan fiction written for history buffs, with his Mary Sue lead character bumping into the notable figures of that era. Also maybe it's nitpicking ...more
May 26, 2009 Mrine rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who like fluffy-cute historical fan-fiction
Have you ever slogged through 600+ pages of a novel hoping that it might improve? Do you feel illogically driven to finish a book? We have a disease, you and I, possibly obsessive compulsive disorder, and as a fellow sufferer I mercifully suggest that you avoid this novel. The trouble is, the writing is not so bad as to drive a casual summer reader away. Maybe you find the protagonist, Ben Knowles, insufferably vanilla, or you can't see the appeal of his love interest Polly, but characters like ...more
Dec 23, 2007 Nori rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recently-read
Historical fiction is compelling to me, especially the more detail-oriented ones. This one is nowhere near the scope or success of a Neal Stephenson, but some would say that's a good thing. Still, though, it's a compelling read, thick with plot, taking place during 1848-49 between France, London, New York, across the nascent U.S., and to California. It's fascinating to see a meticulous author's take on what is, as the title of the book suggests, the heyday of many things: America, revolutions ac ...more
Kurt Andersen’s Heyday is part of a subgenre that I love – a giant “Victorian” novel (with slightly more independent women and much more sex and swearing than an actual Victoria novel – “Deadwood” Lite if you will.) A good third or so of the novel is set in New York in 1848-1849, and that was my favorite part, because it was fascinating to read about what New York was like at that period. (I do think, though, if you’re not as fascinated by Olde New Yorke as I am, this section might strike you as ...more
at 600+ pages one wonders (pleads for) a red-penned-editor, but ntl a rolicking historical fiction of usa in 1840's-50's where gold was there to be picked up, fantastical technology was changing everything (photos, telegraphy, trains, etc) and lots of sex drugs n rock n roll. well, not rock, but rock-like. fun, but long, horse n buggy outsider lit.
A fresh, impeccable portrait of an era startlingly reminiscent of our own times, Heyday is by turns tragic and funny and sublime, filled with bona fide heroes and lost souls, visionaries (Walt Whitman, Charles Darwin, Alexis de Tocqueville) and monsters, expanding horizons and narrow escapes. It is also an affecting story of four people passionately chasing their American dreams at a time when America herself was still being dreamed up-an enthralling, old-fashioned yarn interwoven with a bracing ...more
Jul 06, 2009 Marley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: highly
I found Heyday remandered at Barnes & Noble a couple weeks ago. I read the 600+ pages in 2 1/2 days and loved it. It could have gone on.

The book takes place in that most revolutionary year, 1848, when the great houses of Europe shook and trembled, and in some cases fell--at least for awhile. And in the US gold was discovered. The revolutionary year frames the narrative that takes our heroes from Paris to New York to the Utopian communes of the midwest to San Fransisco and the gold fields--a
Oct 04, 2012 Katharine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh. My. Goodness. I LOVED this book. I would even go so far as to say it was one of the best I've read this year. I am not usually a historical fiction fan. I would have never picked this book up based on a jacket or a blurb. I did pick it up because I am systematically reading through my public library alphabetically. This book had the good fortune of being written by an author whose last name began with A.

Now, on to the book. This is the saga of four young Americans, three men and one woman,
Carly Thompson
Lord this was a long book that definitely felt like a long book. In many ways this book reminded me of a sprawling Victorian novel like Dickens wrote--lots of characters, lots of detail, humor, romance, and the villain is defeated in the end. In other ways this was clearly a 21st Century novel--more gore, sex, and free thinking attitudes. I liked the book but reading it often felt like a chore. There was a lot of historical events/information contained in the novel including the French Revoluti ...more
Desiree Koh
Jan 11, 2008 Desiree Koh rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: eh
As a history nerd, I started off truly enjoying this fictional odyssey across late 19th century America, where the protagonists bump and interact with historical figures such as Scott Joplin and Abraham Lincoln. But when the narrative is twisted to facilitate coincidences and the good old standby deux es machina is brought in as closer, you sort of wished you had a porcelain spittoon for the bile foaming at the back of your throat.

To rant my grievances would be Spoiler City, but nothing is a wor
Suzanne Auckerman
Jun 22, 2010 Suzanne Auckerman rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It is supposed to convey the history of the period between 1845 - 1850.I didn't like any of the characters. The setting was London, Paris, New York and San Francisco with some mid-west thrown in. It took quite a while to get into and was hard to follow at first. I can't believe it was a bestseller. I am sure people bought it becaues of the reviews, but I would like to know how many actually read the entire thing.

I would not have except that I am so stubborn about finishing a book and this was a
Paul Shirley
It kept going and going, and so did I, although not without some hiccups.

I like a good bit of historical fiction as much as the next guy, so I read with thorough interest this tale of life in the US of A in 1848 and 1849. The book was easy and sort of conversational, and I think that's what got me through it.

I would not say, though, that the book was "good," necessarily. The lead characters seemed half-formed, and the bits of intrigue (regarding the Frenchman pursuing Knowles and regarding Ashb
Feb 19, 2014 Will rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"'And you, Ivanhoe,' Skaggs said, 'intend to find her and fetch her home?'

'I do intend to find her. If she is at the ends of the earth, I shall find her. And to stay with her forever if she'll allow me.'

Duff stared in admiration: the ends of the earth. He had never heard anyone but a priest use that phrase. He felt a wave of love for Ben, and suddenly saw his chance. 'I'll come along with you,' he said, practically shouting, he was so excited. 'West.'

Ben smiled, and clasped Duff's hand, thumb ho
Niki Costantini
Questo libro è la delusione letteraria con la quale ho chiuso il 2008 e iniziato il 2009. Intendiamoci, non un grossa delusione, tuttavia se le intenzioni dell'autore erano quelle di scrivere una grande epopea americana, raccontando una pagina di storia di una grande nazione, allora ci è riuscito solo a metà. Ho cominciato la lettura di "Mondo nuovo" con grande entusiasmo, l'ho praticamente divorato fino alla prima parte, un po' perché amo i romanzi storici, un po' perché molto affascinata dai p ...more
Feb 05, 2008 Amanda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. Historical fiction has never really drawn me in, but I'm starting to like it more. This book focuses on the stories of five people and how their lives intersect in a year of great change in the 19th century. The story drags a tiny bit toward the end, but overall, it's fascinating. A great read- I was glued to it!
ccccurt Heimbuck
It's everything I want from a novel: historical, sprawling, long, and very detailed. I love that Andersen goes out of his way to make note of historical details such as names of cocktails, menu items, technology, current events. Some people might think it's cheesy, but I love it. Context is cooler than character or plot.
Nov 13, 2009 Benjamin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in the mid 19th century in Paris/London & New York tells the story of 4 people and their lives during an exciting period.
Very well written.
Holly Kline
Heyday falls into a strange greyish area between historical and fiction. It is long and often boring, but just interesting enough to keep going. The characters are mostly flat and predictable, even if the small "moments" aren't; Andersen seems committed to going for the gross-out over actual compelling storylines. I was disappointed and let down.

The stars given are for the details that are present (much of which is poking into odd corners of history I didn't know about), the brief moments things
Mar 11, 2014 Aaron rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Slow-moving, but interesting historical novel which follows the "young America" of the 1840s from east to west. Having the characters traverse the continent provides a plausible setting to feature a pastiche of virtually everything going on within that era: European revolution and counter-revolution; the recent Mexican-American war and resulting acquisition of the Californian territory by the U.S.; eastern immigration, scientific discovery, Transcendentalism, and urban growth; burgeoning railway ...more
Feb 21, 2008 Jenifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was at the top of my TBR list and once I finished the book I was not dissapointed. The story and characters were captivating all the way through and I actually learned quite a bit along the way. The author really gives you a feel for American life in the 1800's. As I read the book I would google images of things that were referred to in the book and events that took place to understand a little more about the references that were made. While America is the primary setting of the novel, ...more
Oct 26, 2012 Darlene rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Cheryl in cc nv
Recommended to Darlene by: Katharine
Wow! I can't actually believe I finished reading this tome. Thankfully I was able to get the CDs from the library at the same time as I got the book. 22 CDs! If it were not for the narration of Charles Leggett to help me along, I don't know if I would have been able to consume this divine story. He made the story come alive. His characters were individualized in such a way that I always knew who was speaking. Unfortunately he is a male reader so Polly didn't sound quite right, but since most of ...more
Jan 21, 2008 Len rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite the promise of a cross-country adventure and an eventual landing in California at the time of the Gold Rush, the clear strength of this book is its depiction of the City of New York at an explosive time in American political, cultural and military history. After the Mexican War was won, Americans (including immigrants who had arrived merely 10 minutes before) experienced the thrills of "modern" life. They drank, visited Barnum's, read "penny" newspapers, gawked at massive urban fires, ha ...more
Iowa City Public Library
Heyday, one of the best historical novels of the year, has at least three things going for it.

First, strong characters. Ben Knowles, having witnessed violence at the barricades in Paris, is swept up with revolutionary ideals. Only by emigrating to America can he live those ideals. Once in New York, he’s immediately enchanted by Polly Lucking, a freethinking actress, tho she discreetly puts in one night a week at a brothel. Her brother Duff fought in the Mexican War, bearing physical and emotiona
Oct 26, 2011 Anya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As someone who majored in American Studies with an emphasis on manifest destiny and has a penchant for historical fiction, this book was like catnip for me. I had it drilled into me that 1848 was a Very Big Year in the world--the revolutions in Europe, the Mexican-American War, the Irish potato famine, the Oregon Trail, the start of the Gold Rush in California--and this book only emphasized that further. There's even a shout-out to the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention.

While it becomes a little outla
Apr 10, 2008 planetkimi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Andersen's characterization of the cast of Heyday is enviable. It's amazing how he constructs such realistic characters from deftly revealed snippets of their pasts without interrupting the flow of the present-time narration.

Interestingly, he fits concerns we think of as "modern" seamlessly into the context of American life 150 years ago, especially the relationship between time and communication across distances, aided by technology.

The last quarter of the book dragged on a little for me until
Aug 07, 2007 jillian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book was wonderful (if a bit cliched in places). In 1848, the West is changing, from the riots in Paris that lead to a dozen revolutions across Europe, to the San Francisco Gold Rush. And Andersen manages to capture it all, from the February Revolution in Paris, to the American frontier. In it, we follow Ben Knowles as he travels from France back to his native England, and then to New York. Ben has always dreamed of being an American, and we see New York through his eyes, in all o ...more
Jan 11, 2011 Nancy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 26, 2008 Alspilsbury rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In 1848 France is in Revolution and America is in transition. An Englishman named Benjamin Knowles is witness to both. Believing he has witnessed the death of his friend at the hand of gendarmes in the first night of the French Revolution, Knowles returns to England, only to feel like a misplaced person.

Catching the first ship to America, he eventually meets up with Skaggs, a "daguerreotypist" and journalist, Polly Lucking, a fetching actress and part-time prostitute, and her brother, Duff, an e
Bookmarks Magazine

Kurt Andersen is best known for his previous novel (the irreverent, postmillennial Turn of the Century), his role as cofounder and editor of the now-defunct Spy magazine, and as host of public radio's Studio 360. Heyday, Andersen's second novel, recalls the work of Gore Vidal, T. C. Boyle, Thomas Mallon, and even Charles Dickens. Critics agree that while the author's vision is grand and his execution ambitious, Knowles's adventures too often get bogged down in the minutiae of the period at the e

Aug 09, 2008 Tracy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nyc, fiction
From the first line, the sights, sounds and smells of 1848 New York jump off the page. I've never read anything quite like this. Anderson has clearly researched every little detail of life in 1848 New York, but also London, Paris, San Francisco and other locations, pulling together the utopian movement, the Gold Rush, the rise of Marxism, and much more, giving the reader a chance to consider them side by side, right down to what songs and performances were popular. The day-to-day details were pa ...more
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Kurt Andersen is the author of three novels -- Heyday (a New York Times bestseller and winner of the 2008 Langum Prize for historical fiction), Turn of the Century (a national bestseller and New York Times Notable Book), and the new True Believers.

He is also host of the Peabody Award-winning weekly public radio program Studio 360, and a contributing editor to Vanity Fair.

Previously, Kurt was a co
More about Kurt Andersen...

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“And you, Ivanhoe,' Skaggs said, 'intend to find her and fetch her home?'

'I do intend to find her. If she is at the ends of the earth, I shall find her. And to stay with her forever if she'll allow me.'

Duff stared in admiration: the ends of the earth. He had never heard anyone but a priest use that phrase. He felt a wave of love for Ben, and suddenly saw his chance. 'I'll come along with you,' he said, practically shouting, he was so excited. 'West.'

Ben smiled, and clasped Duff's hand, thumb hooked to thumb.

'Wait, wait, wait...' It had fallen to Skaggs, of all people, to challenge their quest on practical grounds. 'How shall you possibly find her? She has been two weeks on the road already. They might be anywheres between Ohio and the desert.'

'We shall obtain from Mr. Brisbane a copy of his little guide,' Ben said, 'and follow it like a map from east to west. The only question is our fastest route. Speed is paramount.'

Skaggs saw that his friend would not be deterred. 'Well, a steamboat to Albany, railways to Buffalo, then a steamer across Lake Erie. It sickens me even to describe the route. But you could be in Cleveland before the end of the week.'

He paused. 'I cannot believe that I am describing a speedy arrival in Cleveland as a desirable thing.”
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