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Herbert Rowbarge

3.49  ·  Rating details ·  41 ratings  ·  14 reviews
From the author of Tuck Everlasting comes a powerful, multi-layered story about a man who never felt complete, the family he is unable to fully love, and the fabulous amusement park that he created.

Everyone in town knows Herbert Rowbarge as the wealthy creator of the Rowbarge Pleasure Dome, a fantastic amusement park. But his past is murky. Even his twin daughters believe
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Paperback, 224 pages
Published December 6th 2016 by Square Fish (first published 1982)
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Average rating 3.49  · 
Rating details
 ·  41 ratings  ·  14 reviews


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Jessica
This strange book has stuck with me for about twenty years, thought I don't precisely "like" it. It's a character study of an unlikeable man, the titular Herbert Rowbarge, who grows up in an orphanage and determines to make something of himself. He's incapable of being happy, in part because of his ambition, and in part because he's been emotionally crippled at birth, and doesn't know it. He is an identical twin, but his brother was adopted at birth and grew up in a loving home. Herbert hates ...more
Sylvester
2.5* Strange. I didn't like even one of the characters, the story was almost dull, BUT! I absolutely had to read to the end. Because from the very first page one fact is clear, and that fact is so compelling because no one in the book knows it, even though it effects and drives all of their fates (to varying degrees). I simply had to read to the end to see if anyone would find out, and how it would explain things in their lives. I was not disappointed. What a strange book!
Bobby Keniston
Jan 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Love in abundance was given him three times in his life: by his only friend, Dick Festeen; by his wife, Ruby; and by his twin daughters, Babe and Louisa. To none of these did he give his own love back. He couldn't."

So the Foreward of "Herbert Rowbarge" by Natalie Babbitt tells the reader about its title character.

I bought this book from a 10 cent library book sale--- it has the Middle School's name I attended stamped on the inside, hardly any wear. I recognized the name Natalie Babbitt from her
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Brenda
Jul 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Such great writing - clear and elegant. There's not a word out of place to tell the story of Herbert Rowbarge and his fascination with things that come in two's. The fascination doesn't extend to his twin daughters. In fact, he's not sure why he feels such a tingle of recognition at times when he sees his reflection, but readers do.

What an incredible tale - I'm not certain as to whether I would love The Rowbarge Pleasure Dome or not. What do you think?
Suzanne Fournier
The tragic tale of mans life that cuts back and forth between his upbringing and the current year (1952). He has lost the most important thing in his life but never realizes it and it haunts him forever.
Wendy
Dec 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book does not get the appreciation it deserves.
Erica
Dec 04, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jeff LaFerney
Dec 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am a middle school English teacher and I've read four other Babbitt titles for middle grade kids and enjoyed them all. Then I ran across Herbert Rowbarge at a library book sale and picked it up thinking it was another kids' book. It wasn't. I read it and was enthralled. I am a big fan of John Irving and how he tells a story, weaving sub-plot after sub-plot, character after character, and sometimes years and years of time into a magical story that is as unforgettable as it is unpredictable. Let ...more
Maggie
Jul 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-and-kidlit
An unusual and forgotten title by the author of Tuck Everlasting. The problem with this book is that it really doesn't have an audience: it's not exactly right for kids, not exactly right for adults. It's also not fast-paced, and it doesn't have a happy ending. Honestly, I can see why this book went nowhere. But Babbitt has said it's her favorite book, and I loved it. It's about two sets of twins. The title character, Herbert Rowbarge, is one of the first set; separated at birth from a twin ...more
Tyler McGaughey
Jul 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, favorites
I picked this up from the bargain shelves outside Selected Works, intrigued by the rapturous blurbs from Anne Tyler and others. It reads like something John Irving could have written if he had any sense of pace, economy, or elegance; its mildly ironic detachment comes off as politely arch melancholy, rather than the sledgehammer smugness that mars something like Garp.
Jen
Sep 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book. Reminded me of how much I like Natalie Babbitt. So much so that I went to the library and got out 3 others by her that I've never read. Her prose is sparse and perfect. How she managed such a character study in such a small book is amazing.
Stacy
Jun 12, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
First published in 1983. I doubt this would be published today, despite Ms. Babbitt's wonderful prose and storytelling. It had a very old-fashioned feel. Basically a story of three adults, although it shows snippets of Herbert's entire life, from birth onward.
Dianne
Aug 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Found this little seldom read volume while reading the Fiction shelves at CCHS. Thought it quite exceptional. The twin tale and the ironies therein. I liked it a lot.
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Jeanne Gale
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Feb 02, 2011
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Nov 25, 2018
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Natalie Babbitt was an American writer and illustrator of children's books. She attended Laurel School for Girls, and then Smith College. She had 3 children and was married to Samuel Fisher Babbitt. She was the grandmother of 3 and lived in Rhode Island.
She was a board member of the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance a national not-for-profit that actively advocates for literacy,
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