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From the Terrace

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  389 ratings  ·  32 reviews
With over three million copies sold, O'Hara's great novel of America in the first half of the century was made into an acclaimed film starring Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. It richly chronicles one man's rise to wealth, power, and prominence - and the haunting sense of failure at his heart.
Paperback, 912 pages
Published November 9th 1999 by Da Capo Press (first published 1958)
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Data I think it would be pretty easy to slide into hating that thing which assumes that you must agree with everything the system/person believes. It seems…moreI think it would be pretty easy to slide into hating that thing which assumes that you must agree with everything the system/person believes. It seems likely to me that it is all mixed up with self-hate for Natalie; and in the end, pity and love are mutually exclusive. If the story was about Natalie, my guess is we'd be exploring all the many avenues of self-loathing a person can choose.(less)

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3.92  · 
Rating details
 ·  389 ratings  ·  32 reviews

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Mar 31, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Supermax prisoners
Shelves: own, fiction

Two stars for effort. For the enormous effort it took to create this 981 page behemoth. 981 pages of tiny print and tiny margins. There are no chapters. Just little breaks in the text here and there.

I suspect if Ayn Rand and Herman Wouk birthed a novel together, this would be it.

According to Budd Schulberg's introduction, O'Hara actually believed he would get the Nobel Prize for this novel, the life story of Alfred Eaton, a boy from a very well-to-do eastern Pennsylvania family, from his birth i
Elizabeth (Alaska)
O'Hara is rapidly becoming one of my favorite authors. Another GR reviewer - correctly, I think - places him among the naturalism writers. I don't know if he was influenced by Zola or others in that "movement", but he does seem to fit from what I've read.

The book opens in the latter part of the 19th Century telling us about Samuel Eaton, owner of Eaton Steel in southern Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia. "But this is Alfred's story." This book is how events develop a person's character. There is
Schwanke noch zwischen drei und vier Sternen, denn O'Haras Stärken als Autor stehen auch einige Defizite gegenüber, die in diesem Riesenformat zahlreiche Qualitäten in den Schatten stellen.
Von daher lasse ich mir mit meinem Rating noch Zeit bis ich so eine Art Essay verbrochen habe, der dieses Magnum Opus mit Nobelpreisanspruch in den Kontext des Gesamtwerkes stellt.
Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
This was honestly one of the best novels that I've read so far in 2015! From the Terrace (1958) is a truly memorable and sweeping novel about America and its people from the beginning of the 20th century up to the early 1950s. Much of the novel takes place through the eyes of Alfred Eaton and of the people around him over the course of much of his life.

O'Hara is a chronicler of the America that he grew up in, that of eastern Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, New York City, and even the Hollywood scene

This was the longest book I had read in a while. It took me a week to get through and has such a sad ending that, at the moment of finishing the last page, I was so angry at John O'Hara I had to have a stiff whiskey before I went to sleep. So, reader, you are warned. If you think you know this story from seeing the 1960 film with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, you don't. The movie tells less than half of the story and has a happy ending.

Alfred Eaton is the son of a father who never loved him
Apr 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I first read this novel while in high school as I became a fan of John O'Hara. Some have complained about his verbosity but that is what I love about his style. It does take a while to get use to the layout of the novel with no chapters and long passages leading from one to another but it still was a joy to read.

Raymond Alfred Eaton began life as the second son of a successful steel magnate in a small Pennsylvania town. His lfe is bared to all in this novel beginning with the uncaring relationsh
Jan 15, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-lit, lp2010s
From the Terrace is a massive novel. Covering a period from the protagonist’s birth in 1897 to the postwar 1940’s. it presents power struggles at the highest levels of business and government against a background of sexual intrigue and violent death.

Raymond Alfred Eaton, called Alfred, is born into the upper economic and social stratum of a small Pennsylvania town, Port Johnson. His father, Samuel Eaton, owns the local steel mill. Alfrd is deeply suspicious of himself, largely because of an occ
Dan Leo
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
I continued my explorations into the more ignored regions of John O'Hara's universe with this 897-page epic. Not as great as his two previous doorstop novels (A Rage to Live and 10 North Frederick), but, being an O'Hara fan, I enjoyed it despite a few parts I wasn't crazy about. It's been slowly dawning on me that in a way all of O'Hara's huge body of novels, novellas and stories (at least the ones I've read) comprise one mammoth encyclopedia-sized novel, and he was probably still writing it wh ...more
John Mcconahey
Fifty years ago, I remember being impressed with the movie version of this book (starring Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, and especially, Ina Balin). But, as is the penchant for most moviemakers, director Mark Robson frequently departed from the details of the book, and thus, from an enthralling character study of a complicated man.

At the close of the 19th century, Alfred Eaton is the second son born into the family of a steel mill owner. When his favored elder brother dies of illness, Alfred welc
Aug 03, 2008 rated it it was ok
What the hell was I thinking?
Oct 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
On a John O'hara binge at the moment. What an epic this is!
David R
Sep 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Like I said, whew! I think O'Hara was getting a bit bored by the 800th page. The characterizations are kinda like Steinbeck and Henry Miller, as if all the characters are half drunk all the time, which they are. The writing style is dry, flat expository prose, and a lot of it. I can just hear the dialog from an old 30's movie while reading this novel (see something by Fontanne and Lunt). The author blabbers on a lot on every subject! The wittiness is forced and sounds contrived; the snappy conve ...more
Jul 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
The cruellest ending to a novel I think I've ever read! A really unusual feat of writing: O'Hara doesn't do grand themes, instead he exactly captures the nature of a long, meandering human existence. Some passion, loyalty, lots of sex, but most of all disappointment and decay.
Alfred Eaton is 'successful', but weathers numerous depressing failures and setbacks, he loses people and then recovers from their loss, the bright, talented faces of his youth turn faded and dissolute. He falls spectacula
Jul 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am giving this five stars, for those who already like John O'Hara. If you aren't a fan of his writing, you probably won't enjoy it. And if you are just getting started on reading him, don't pick this book first. Read his short stories and his shorter novels.

It is a long read. Nearly 900 pages. The gist of the story could have been told in a short story or a novella. It's the story of a man's life. What makes it good reading is O'Hara's ability to capture dialogue so well. It's almost a sociolo
Tom Walsh
May 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you saw the Paul Newman film, and feel confident you know this novel, think again. The massive work not only covers the basic plot, in the film script, but also looks back to the start of this powerful family. O’Hara, a novelist successful in the 50s, still glistens in style and focus, especially in his epic novels.
Elba Barnes
Apr 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful beyond words....speaks of a world that no longer exists and those born to a noble breed that is slowly going to extinction.
This book probably should rate 5 stars, but I just can't concede that a book with no characters that I like should rate that high. Oh, there's plenty to like about the way the characters are portrayed, from the main character to the the best (and worst) of servants. The book is about the rich and the stinking rich (but read the book, for even on this topic there is a clear and lucid declaration of terms and background) from the turn of the 20th century to the post-WWII era.
Alfred Eaton is born t
May 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
John O'Hara strives to be a strictly naturalistic writer who puts a mirror up to the characters and their milieu to show how psychological or social forces control their lives. He clearly wants future generations to go to his works for sociological insights about the American Midwest in the 40s and 50s. But there's a problem: he has a strong sense of virtue, and all but openly admires his virtuous characters, and in From the Terrace he indulges his moral sense to a greater degree than in his oth ...more
Raul Clement
Oct 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Not a perfect novel. The last few hundred pages got somewhat repetitive, and the conclusion wasn't ultimately satisfying and didn't feel of a thematic piece with the novel. However, I can't give less than five stars to a 900-page book (1000+ in some editions) that managed to hold my intellectual and emotional interest.

There's all sorts of technical stuff here for a writer to learn from and appreciate. O'Hara's dialogue is absolutely brilliant -- honest, funny, and pitched exactly right for each
Andrew Lasher
May 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book definitely does not fit in with the books I usually read. However, I generally like to give anything a try and picked up this behemoth randomly one afternoon.

Weighing it at nearly 900 pages, I was a little bit overwhelmed at first. As soon as I started reading, though, I was hooked. This book is all about bad people treating other bad people badly. It is like a soap opera in novel form.

Because of that, this book is a kind of guilty pleasure. I wouldn't say that I felt ashamed for rea
Apr 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
This was one of numerous books I read in the first year of marriage, while new husband was both working and going to school, so I had lots of time on my own. I had a morbid fascination with these characters and what I remember as a dark story. I distinctly remember setting the book down in my lap when I finished it, and as I came back to reality I thought, oh thank goodness, I don't know anyone like these people. I should go back and read it again to see if that was just my innocence at the time ...more
Aug 09, 2012 rated it liked it
It was a book I couldn't put down. But the ending was so disappointing I almost threw it out the window! My other complaint was that the print was so tiny and close together, with narrow margins, that I actually had to track with my finger sometimes to keep from reading the same line over and over. (library book)

There was so much promiscuity, adultery, premarital sex! I kept asking myself, "How could the person who wrote My Friend Flick write so much about sex? Then I realized Mary O'Hara wrote
Sep 21, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The author has undeniable strengths, such as a command of the time and place of his story (eastern Pennsylvania and New York in the early 20th century) and penetrating insight into the crooked byways of human motivation and behavior, but this massive work has surprisingly little to say. It is filled with long and minutely documented interactions between people, but the story does not build; it simply peters out and ends. At 1/5 its length, it would still be too long for what it is. I can't recal ...more
Jan 15, 2008 rated it it was ok
Couldn't get through it, even though Appointment in Samara and 10 North Frederick are two of my favorite books ever...but those were short, spare, tight books...this one was bloated and overindulgent and, in the end, boring...
Feb 26, 2008 rated it it was ok
I was fairly into this book, and hoping it would come together in some meaningful crescendo, but the ending was a big disappointment. I've found this to be consistent with much of O'Hara's work that I've read. . . .
Feb 04, 2012 rated it it was ok
The movie adaption was way better than the book which is unusual in my experience. This novel was way too wordy and gave more background info in the beginning than was needed. It was a very slow read for me.
Dec 04, 2011 rated it liked it
Fascinating time capsule but 900 pages of sexism, careerism, materialism, anti-semitism, and pop-psychology, ultimately depressing to read though entertaining along the way.
Mar 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: abadoned
Gave up. Must have been edgy at the time, but very dated now.
Sep 15, 2008 added it
Shelves: adult-fiction
F O'Ha
Mar 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels
I always considered O'Hara a guilty pleasure of sorts, but this is one damn fine novel.
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From the Terrace 10 8 Jun 13, 2015 08:09PM  
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John Henry O'Hara was an American writer born in Pottsville, Pennsylvania. He initially became known for his short stories and later became a best-selling novelist whose works include Appointment in Samarra and BUtterfield 8. He was particularly known for an uncannily accurate ear for dialogue. O'Hara was a keen observer of social status and class differences, and wrote frequently about the social ...more
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