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Kings Row

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  205 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
Only edition of KINGS ROW in print. No printings but KINGDOM HOUSE editions have a biographical and historical illustrated introduction. Contains map, town photographs, and stills and background on the Ronald Reagan film.
Paperback, 536 pages
Published March 12th 2002 by Kingdom House (first published 1940)
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Robert Russin
"Spring came late in the year 1890, and the fullness of its burgeoning heightened the seasonal disturbance that made unquiet in the blood. "

So begins King's Row, Henry Bellamann's wonderful novel that I am calling a lost American classic. Despite being a critical and commercial success on its release in 1940, leading to a film version with Ronald Reagan two years later, King's Row and the rest of Bellamann's works are largely forgotten today.

This is unfortunate, as King's Row is a novel that sho
I read this 1940 controversial doorstopper back in high school and was riveted by the portrait of seedy 1890s small-town life. There's plenty of nasty little secrets in Kings' Row, and if you've ever seen the 1942 movie starring Ann Sheridan, Ronald Reagan and Bob Cummings, they left a LOT out or referred to it so vaguely they might as well not have bothered. Still, the movie's packed with great Golden Age of Hollywood actors (Claude Rains as the incestuous doctor!) and is worth 2 hours of your ...more
Oct 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: hollywood-tie-in
This time thirteen years ago I was enjoying my final weeks before beginning high school. One languid summer night, the film Kings Row was on Turner Classic Movies. Attracted by the early scenes of happy children running around a small town, most of them oblivious to its corruption, I made my parents change the channel so that I could borrow the book from the library before being spoiled.

It's the story of small-town corruption in c. 1900 Kings Row, a fictional place based on the author's hometown
Aug 16, 2012 rated it liked it
KINGS ROW was supposedly author Henry Bellamann's 'revenge' on the small American town in which he grew up. Sixteen years before PEYTON PLACE similarly riveted the attention of readers in record numbers, it peeked into the windows of the inhabitants of Kings Row to reveal their nasty secrets.

This novel is certainly in the category of what's known as a 'potboiler' - the ingredients include lusty teenage sex, adultery, implied homosexuality, sadism, incest and insanity. And a few other peccadilloe
Fred Kohn
Mar 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ronald-reagan
A truly wonderful book about turn of the last century small town America. I would unhesitatingly give it five stars if the homosexual character, who was otherwise sympathetically portrayed, was subjected to some of the mistaken prejudices of the age that seem ludicrous now: such with an overprotective mother that causes him to hate women. Bellaman has a way of writing the dialogue of both hicks and academics that makes them seem like totally genuine characters. He also tackles many subjects that ...more
Sep 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Classic story of small town with many dark secrets, old but very readable
Feb 02, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This was a boring book, I do wish the author had done more to make it more interesting.
Michael David
Mar 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was born in 1988.

When I was in pre-elementary, shows like Melrose Place and Beverly Hills 90210 were popular, although I was never able to enjoy them. First, they aired way past my bedtime, and second, I wouldn't have been allowed by my parents. I just had an inchoate attraction to the scantily-clad women featured in the advertisements, and that was it. I was a lot older when I realized that it dealt with the controversy and hypocrisy of people in high society.

These series are known as 'soap
Belinda Elizondo
Mar 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Vintage hardback copy found in a little independent bookstore years ago. Yes, this is the one the famous Ronald Reagan quote is from, " Where's the rest of me?" The book was printed in the 30's, and was probably one of the first Peyton Place type stories about town folks and their secrets. Even more secrets than are revealed in the film. The old movie was one of my favorites. Always watched with the sense that there was more to the story than was revealed. It's a book I reread every so often.
Apr 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
I had added this book to my reading list because my father referred to it in his 1942 wartime letter to my mother. It made a positive impression on him, a story about an ordinary man, so I looked forward to finding out what it was that moved him so.

In 1942, my father wrote, "I'm telling you it's the most true to life book I've ever read. About the only book which really describes the life of any ordinary person. Has ups and downs. weak points. all about his love affairs. Well if you ever get a
Donie Nelson
May 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
I was reading this book for pleasure when realized that it should be a mini-series, as the 1942 film--because of the censorship at that time--could not depict some of the more searing subplots of the book. I was job hunting in 1984 and during the interview I was asked if I had a favorite project that should be produced. When I answered, "King's Row," the executive stared at me, then opened a desk drawer. He pulled out scripts for an "King's Row" mini-series the company had developed, but failed ...more
Aug 28, 2012 rated it liked it
My interest in this book stemmed from an interest in small town America as it emerged into the twentieth century. Henry Bellamann gives his first hand impressions of that time, through the story of Kings Row. Interspersed throughout the book are characters' thoughts about the times they have lived through, including early pioneers memories as well as forward looking town leaders dreams for their town.

The plot and characters held my interest, although there are parts that drag the reader through
Mar 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes rambling, this is still a nice, intelligent portrait of small town mid-west America at the turn of the last century. The characters are vividly drawn, and Bellaman's commentary about human nature and the American character is certainly as valid today as when it was written. Maybe not the literary equivalent of The Magnificent Ambersons, Raintree County, Our Town,Winesburg, Ohio, or Old Home Town, but still worthy. I highly recommend.
Nov 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to BurgendyA by: Anne Rice
This is definitely an unforgettable,marvelous & enchanting tale. Kings Row is the first novel of Henry Bellamann that I've read and enjoyed so much. The time period,characters & plot captivated me beautifully with the ups/downs of the characters circumstances. Literally felt the growth & pains of Parris, and it really touched me.

I am so glad that I read Kings Row and thank Anne Rice for suggesting it. Since Anne Rice mentioned in a interview when Midwinter Wolves the second book of
Barbara VA
Jun 04, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: movies, 2013-read
Wow - this was quite a read. I picked it up because I was such a fan of the 1940 movie that I watched because I am such a fan of Claude Rains and Charles Coburn. They were quite the characters in this portrait of small midwest town at the turn of the last century. This book really makes Peyton Place seem like Utopia! Parris is so well drawn and the education of an Alienist is fascinating. So many topics covered - incest, race, greed, religion, lunacy, homosexuality, prejudice, and even fanaticis ...more
Claudia Mundell
Nov 21, 2012 rated it liked it
Very old book...from 1940...long but intersting in that setting was Missouri. Capture small town life and the clearly marked lines of classes in the community. Author writes with wordiness marked by the times...but his nature descriptions are lovely. He uses seasons to move time along in the book and does it well. After the book, I watched the film...nominated for 3 Academy Awards in 1942.Ronald Reagan was one of main charactes, his portrayal of Parris Mitchell is known as his best acting perfor ...more
B Janie
Sep 09, 2013 rated it liked it
I decided to read Kings Row after watching the interview with Anne Rice on Goodreads and hearing her recommend it. I thought it was a good read. It is a about a town called Kings Row and the people who live in it. It is filled with all the drama that can occur in a small town. This novel was written in the 1940's and had a movie made of it in which Ronald Reagan acted. I think this is one of those books that has been banned by certain schools due to controversial themes such as homosexuality, sa ...more
Fae Kelley
May 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 22, 2009 rated it liked it
I've been told this book was based on Fulton, MO. If so, Fulton is not different from other small towns I've lived in. It was written in 1940 and included an amazing amount of sex. Well, my Mom always told me that we didn't invent it.....PS. There was a movie made from the book starring Ronald Reagan.
Dawn Cancellieri
Jan 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Even though it was written almost 75 years ago, the plot elements could have been ripped from today's headlines: financial malfeasance by the banks, homosexuality, race, mental illness, medical malpractice, greed, suicide and a host of sexual scandals. Still enjoyable, and just goes to show that the more things change the more they stay the same.
Sep 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
I got about half-way through back in college but always wanted to pick it up again and finish. Wow, it's much more depressing than I remembered or than the old movie version. Secrets become deadly and the shadow of mental illness hangs over the town, based on Fulton, Mo, with it's real "State Lunatic Asylum." It's so very dark, but well written.
Eva Sterner
Oct 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
A banned book in this community for many years. The characters in the book are based on people who were living at the time. Actually a very good portrait of small town America, but written without the joy of same. It paints a very bleak picture.
Jul 10, 2013 rated it it was ok
Somewhat slow. No major events, things potentially could have been more dramatic, but were
calmed down, and hidden away and never brought back up. Like having one of the characters committed, so she could not create a scandal.
Mike Newman
Jul 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
an influence on Peyton Place, a more serious and literary novel but also about a small town where people keep deep dark secrets for years and years, best known now as the basis for a Ronald Reagan movie
Mar 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Maybe 3 1/2 leaning toward 4 stars. Fascinating cast of characters in small town Virginia from late 1880 to 1920ish.
Oct 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books of all time. I've read it twice and thought I'd add it to my list. Probably hard to find a hard back copy.
R. Honey
Jul 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
A very memorable book. One of those I was probably too young to read but I think it was in our bookcase at home! Prez. Regan loses a leg in the movie version!
rated it really liked it
Oct 08, 2016
Geoffrey Hulse
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Sep 24, 2014
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Dec 27, 2012
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A native of Fulton, Missouri, Heinrich Hauer Bellamann was born on April 28, 1882. He was a serious student of music and studied both in this country and abroad. From 1907 until 1932, when he began to pursue writing full-time, Bellamann held administrative and teaching positions at several educational institutions including Julliard and Vassar. During these years, Bellamann wrote poetry and publis ...more
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