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The Gods of Newport

3.42  ·  Rating Details ·  1,043 Ratings  ·  126 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
ebook, 480 pages
Published November 7th 2006 by Penguin Group (USA) (first published November 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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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
Susan
Mar 18, 2014 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, fiction, 2014
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
Karyl
Mar 26, 2011 Karyl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Christie
Oct 11, 2011 Christie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
Tara
Jul 02, 2013 Tara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan
Feb 20, 2012 Jan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Richard
Oct 30, 2014 Richard rated it liked it  ·  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
rinabeana
Sep 16, 2007 rinabeana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Leigh
Nov 01, 2008 Leigh rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Joe
Mar 19, 2008 Joe rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Debbie
Feb 12, 2012 Debbie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Sarah
Sep 30, 2009 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jeanne Beaudet
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sarah
Mar 28, 2008 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Alice
Jul 13, 2014 Alice rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Patricia Johnson
I enjoyed this book....not as much as the Civil War Series (The Kent Family Chronicles).

This story takes place in the late 1900s. Newport, Rhode Island is the playground of the country's established rich. Acceptance into this community is scrutinized and not easily attained. A wealthy railroad owner from New York wishes to introduce his daughter into this culture. However 'new money' is not welcome.

In the end the daughter rejects this lifestyle as superficial and excessive without substance.

James Wethington
This story has an interesting plot line is based on the gathering of wealth in the late 1880's in the railroad boom in the United States. Jakes shows the irony of "old money" versus "new money" in Newport, Rhode Island. It was a haven for the rich and famous and we see this through Sam Driver and his daughter, Jenny. If you want to learn more about history in the Glided Age, this would help you see more because Jakes does so much research into his novels; moreover, great story line and great rea ...more
Joyce
Aug 20, 2011 Joyce rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Jenn
Mar 03, 2013 Jenn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks

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
pianogal
Sep 04, 2007 pianogal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical-fic
This one got better as it went on. The first half was pretty slow, but I thought the ending saved it somewhat.

It also felt like this could have been a longer series, Jakes had enough detail for this to happen, but he just edited it down to one novel. We could have really gotten some character development with a longer series. Oh well.

Good read from one of my favorite American authors. :)
Lncropper
We read this for another book club. To be honest, I didn't like it, except that it was interesting because it is historical fiction and has quite a few real people woven in it. (I wouldn't give you a nickel for any of them as human beings.) The girl who had chosen it had been to Newport, Rhode Island and had a video of the huge mansions the rich built there for summer homes. I missed it because I was in Ireland, but I understand it was very interesting.
Katy M
May 08, 2015 Katy M rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Allison
Oct 02, 2013 Allison rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am a huge fan of John Jakes, but this book was a yawn Fest. I read it because I went to Newport, RI this past fall and fell in love. I was completely disappointed with this book. It does not capture your attention. I had to renew it from the library 3 times because I was so bored with it and couldn't get momentum to continue reading. The characters are so underdeveloped and the plot is almost nonexistent. Don't waste your time.
Marylu Sanok
Not one of his best works but a decent story. I am a fan of John Jakes and was as crazy waiting for the next book during the bicentennial series as the young kids were about Harry Potter and the Twighlight series.

The characters were routine and had no real appeal to me. It was much tooooo formulamatic.
Lori
May 08, 2013 Lori rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
12 & 1/2 hours listening to a pleasant enough story but my least favorite of all the John Jakes books that I have read. None of the characters is really very likeable, which is not neccessarily Jakes' fault so much as the area he was writing about. If you are wanting some light reading with a little Rhode Island history mixed in, it would do, but I just a soon not have heard this one.
Ellen
Sep 09, 2013 Ellen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After visiting Newport this summer, and seeing this book in the gift shop at The Breakers, I knew I had to read this book. The detailed research that went into this book was amazing. If you are interested in how the top one per cent lived in the nineteenth century, then this book will fascinate you.
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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
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