Phillip Margulies

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November 2008


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Phillip Margulies Glad you asked me that, Goodreads Bot. Right now I'm polishing up another historical novel. It's called The Traitors. Set in New York City at the time…moreGlad you asked me that, Goodreads Bot. Right now I'm polishing up another historical novel. It's called The Traitors. Set in New York City at the time of the American Revolution, it recounts the adventures of the DeWitts, a family of well-to-do loyalists, their slaves, and several characters closely related to them, from 1774 to 1783. In the microcosm of the DeWitt family, where, as a matter of conviction, everyone favors authority and the old order, the crisis brings a little revolution; the family’s weaker members are liberated by the war and its stronger members are defeated by it. With several interweaving plot lines that give equal weight to masters and servants, I am shamlessly describing the novel to publishers as a mash-up of Gone with the Wind and Downton Abbey.

I have always been bored to death by the American Revolution. I hate the eighteenth century, Colonial Williamsburg, pigtails, buckled shoes, and Founding Fathers. On the other hand, I’m drawn to the theme of people who live through historical change so great that it redefines right and wrong. This was the situation of the loyalists. They were steadfast in a sea of treason; their world changed; and without altering their own allegiance they became traitors, despised by their neighbors.
In addition, two relatively unfamiliar facts intrigued me. First, one out of five people in New York City was a slave. Slavery was not abolished in the north until around 1800. So even in New York we have the irony of slave-owners, some of the luckiest, best-fed, least-oppressed people in the world, crying out for their liberty. Secondly, New York City was the British base of operations in America. They conquered it in 1776 and occupied it for the rest of the war. Loyalist refugees from all over the colonies crowded into the city. Almost to the end they kept hoping their side would win, although it became hard to imagine how loyalist and patriot could live in peace after all the terrible things they had done to each other. Meanwhile the rule of New York by the British was very corrupt. Some of the loyalists were outraged by this. Others profited by it.

So the American Revolution turns out to have moral complexity if seen from the right angle and I feel like I can say new things about it.
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Phillip Margulies I write anyway, just badly.
Average rating: 3.84 · 3,318 ratings · 521 reviews · 27 distinct worksSimilar authors
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More books by Phillip Margulies…

Belle Cora, Shame, and When Time Speeds Up

My first novel, Belle Cora, came out last Tuesday.

Since all the reviews focus on novel's New York scenes, I thought I would use this blog to talk about the last third, the San Francisco third, without throwing in too many spoilers. After all, San Francisco was the location of the true events that gave me the idea for the novel.

Several years ago, while reading Frontier Women: The Trans-Mississipp Read more of this blog post »
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Published on January 15, 2014 10:10

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Phillip Margulies rated a book it was amazing
The Old Wives' Tale by Arnold Bennett
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When in a reading cycle are you most likely to use Goodreads?

He voted for: When I finish a book I rate/review it
Phillip Margulies answered Goodreads's question: Phillip Margulies
I am very used to writing, so it is a routine for me. I get up in the morning and bring my laptop to the Starbucks two blocks from where I live, which I treat like an office, and it's full of other people treating it like office. I get a grande capuc See Full Answer
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Phillip Margulies rated a book really liked it
Prelude to a Certain Midnight by Gerald Kersh
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Gerald Kersh was a unique talent; he wrote like nobody else, he sometimes attained perfection in his short stories while most of his novels tend to fall apart at some point after promising beginnings. Prelude to a Certain Midnight is the exception. I ...more
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The Factory of Facts by Luc Sante
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“When mannequins have nipples, it's a cold-hearted world.”
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Roy Blount Jr.
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Only Yesterday by Frederick Lewis Allen
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Five Points by Tyler Anbinder
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Evidence by Luc Sante
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More of Phillip's books…
“Beauty misleads without lying, like an ambiguous prophecy in a Greek play. We read into it our hopes, to which it is indifferent. We ask it to be true and good, but it has its own way of measuring worth, its own standard and authority.”
Phillip Margulies, Belle Cora

“The truth was withheld only because so much else had to be forfeited.”
Phillip Margulies, Belle Cora

“Talk about something else. Tell me about this book you are writing."
"What book?" I say. Then : "Oh, I know what you mean. I am not doing that anymore. I couldn't finish._________
I don't think he knows, not really. Not yet.
In my haste to finish this story before death overtakes me, inevitably I have left out many things, and often I have expresses myself inelegantly, and no doubt here and there I have said more than I meant to. When you return, my dear type writer, we will review what we have done, and add this and subtract that. This work has become my hobby and my consolation, and I enjoy it.”
Phillip Margulies, Belle Cora

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“Fiction writing is a kind of magic. If I communicate the magic spell . . . it loses its force for me.”
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“When mannequins have nipples, it's a cold-hearted world.”
Roy Blount, Jr.




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