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4.05  ·  Rating details ·  430 ratings  ·  70 reviews
Gloria, a recent college graduate, class of '57, has everything a girl could want. Expected to make a brilliant marriage to a wealthy but conventional man, Gloria finds herself torn between society's expectations and her own search for a future that is both passionate and fulfilling. Her quest uncovers the intensity of desires, the gift of intellectual accomplishment, and ...more
Paperback, 656 pages
Published September 1st 2001 by Perennial (first published 1998)
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Average rating 4.05  · 
Rating details
 ·  430 ratings  ·  70 reviews

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Suanne Laqueur
Jul 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-five-stars
It's rare that I find a book that strikes such a deep note in me. This was like a ten-fingered chord on an organ. It's a hefty tome—it weighs pounds. I'd put off reading it because of its size but once I started, I could not stop. It just blew me away. The story, the characters, the attention to detail, the social and cultural minutiae of 1950s America against the beautiful literary references...

And above all, Gloria.

Gloria. Her mental flooding. Her anxieties. Her raw des
Jan 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
OK, before we start, I think it should be made clear that I want to BE Gloria Cotter...her blend of beauty, perspicacity, wit and emotional depth is the template for everything I strive to be. Like Gloria, I was a precocious child; like Gloria, I found that being a small adult thrown in with a pack of near-feral kids who seemed hellbent on either assimilating or crushing all in their path necessitated adaptive behavior from a young age; and, like Gloria Cotter, I have a heart and head that are o ...more
Michelle 🦂
Jan 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I don't even know what to say besides that I wish I was Gloria Cotter.

This book is pure heaven if you like to read coming of age novels. It's 600+ pages so it's not a fast read, but I honestly prefer it that way. You get so deep inside Gloria's mind you forget who you are.

I can't believe this was written by a man. It was just..perfect. I love Gloria's flaws, and how she had to be someone other than herself to fit in. I loved that she was an English major in a sorority full of girls
May 05, 2009 rated it liked it
The author did a great job of capturing period details, but the book was much much wordier than it needed to be. Also, he spent so much time emphasizing Gloria's great ability to "play the game" and act like a perfect society girl that it was easy to lose sight of what was supposed to make her interesting, which was her love of poetry and desire for a PhD. I didn't end up liking her as much as I'd expected to.
May 18, 2008 rated it liked it
Coming of age story of Gloria Cotter during the 1950's and 60's before the women's movement--well written, developed and believable characters. One of the best books with a female protagonist written by a man that I've ever read.

I wasn't constantly thinking, "she wouldn't do/think/be that way."

Long, but enjoyable easy read. More of a character study than anything else, so if you love a fast moving plot, Gloria isn't for you. Only three stars because tho I'll always think of Gloria fondly, she
Nov 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: English majors, sorority girls, coming-of-age enthusiasts
Ahhhhh … this book is special to me for so many reasons. First off, I read parts of it on a bus trip from Düsseldorf to Paris. It speaks volumes for the power of a good book that I, many times, chose to read rather than look out the window at the gorgeous unfamiliar countryside. Even though I was in college in the late 90s, I could totally relate to the main character Gloria’s emotions as she traversed her journey as a college girl in 1950s Virginia. The author not only captured what it was like ...more
Sep 10, 2010 rated it did not like it
I really liked this book initially and wanted it to be the book I was hoping it would be. Premise follows a steel heiress and her plight to 'find herself'. Author does a good job really placing you in the characters' shoes, he changes the point of view periodically. The book was going swimmingly until around the 200pg mark and it took hard right. The author introduces characters that are verbally and sexually abusive/manipulative. It goes away for a little while and returns with force. Ifthe aut ...more
Aug 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
I loved this book, beyond anything I could have anticipated. My initial hope was that I could get into it; little did I know that I'd be transported to the 1950s so deeply and effectively. This was exactly the book I was looking to read: engrossing, detailed, nuanced, dynamic, smart. What a satisfying read!
Jan 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Probably my favorite novel of all-time. I read it again every summer and have since I was fifteen.
Loved the atmosphere, the exquisite rendition of the 1950's. Everything was about to change drastically, but hadn't yet. Gloria is a very smart girl but her personality is a construct created after brutal mistreatment at boarding school. She has a "secret watcher" who tells her what to do and say in stressful situations. She wears her beautiful clothes and make up to create illusion. She is very successful in many ways. The last year of college and the summer after she graduates from college are ...more
Jul 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
I picked this book up at the Bargain Books one day because it was a brick--I love long complicated books as a rule--and because I was intrigued by the hardcover version of cover art, and now I only wish I'd purchased multiple copies, as mine is starting to tip and sway as the spine crumbles. The first time through, I thought I'd made a mistake, even at half price but finished it anyway...and promptly read it all again as I'd been sucked into the book and its premise. I've been hooked since...and ...more
Aug 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I didn't love it as much as Maillard's near-perfect Clarinet Polka, but I didn't expect to. Nonetheless, it's pretty incredible. And is it just me, or can this guy write some fantastic non-sex scenes?!
Ruth Kevghas
Aug 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I felt like Gloria was a live person and if I could just turn a corner somehow I could sit by the pool with her....
Apr 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013
This was dark chocolate: rich, delicious, decadent, and turns out, it's good for you. Loved it.
Sarah Beth
Apr 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in the summer of 1957, this story follows Gloria Cotter, a wealthy and beautiful young college graduate who finds herself home after college graduation and floundering at finding her next step. Although beautiful, privileged, and intellectually accomplished, Gloria feels stifled and trapped in her insular world. Expected to make a good marriage to a man from a similar background, Gloria feels trapped at the thought of falling into marriage and then motherhood and instead considers pursuing a ...more
Jan 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was my first opportunity to read a novel by Keith Maillard, however it won't be my last experience! I thought that he did an excellent job as a male author to capture the protagonist's (Gloria) female spirit, insecurities, and, most importantly, her POV as a debutante on the edge of womanhood. It was evident that he did his research in describing the intricacies of baton twirling, competitions, and pageants. I initially purchased this book from the bargain bin at Barnes & Noble as the c ...more
I adored this book the first time I read it, as a college sophomore, back in 2005. I loved it so much I read it again just a year and a half later during the summer before my senior year. Despite claiming it as my favorite book for the past decade, I honestly had no real recollection of its details beyond that the writing is, in fact, incredibly detailed—purposeful—and that Gloria is a wonder to uncover. Amidst a recent reading funk, I decided to pick it up again, as a "proper adult," to see if ...more
Jan 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
First of all, let me point out that this edition of the book is deceptively long. It looks like a fairly standard paperback, but it is over 600 pages, which I didn't realize until I started to wonder why it was taking me so long to read it.

Gloriais, in essence, a coming of age period piece. It is set in the late 50's and really seems to capture the mores and attitudes of wealthy mid-century Americans. Gloria struggles to find her identity amid the expectations of her family and society, but the struggle
Oct 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I felt at home with this story. I felt as if I were living with Gloria, or rather WERE Gloria. Within a couple of pages, I could not stop to think, let alone do anything remotely resembling responsiblity. I was hooked until the last page, and returned for a second and third time, anticipating what I knew was coming, but yet always, always surprised. Everytime I read this book, I run into something I hadn't caught the times before. And the storyline itself is so captivating and so dreamy in a sen ...more
Apr 24, 2013 rated it it was ok
Two voracious readers recommended this book. While reading it, I checked several times to make sure we were reading the same book. I found it excessively verbose and tedious, and I could not relate to the characters on any level. If I never hear the word crinolines again, it won't be too soon. Clearly I was missing something special about this book. If it hadn't come highly recommended, it is doubtful I would have pushed through. I enjoyed the literary discussions, but that was about it. Roundin ...more
Jul 17, 2011 rated it did not like it
There were things I liked about this novel, but I think it was at least 200 pages too long. It was repetitive and the parts delving into Gloria's parents characters felt like long winded unnecessary distractions. Also the sexual assault scenes were disturbingly graphic-- had I known it was going to be like that I wouldn't have picked it up.
However, I truly enjoyed Professor Bolton's character, Gloria's eccentric British English professor. I definitely could have benefited from knowing a Pr
Ruth Michel
Sep 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a long book - an is a good read - set in 1957 or 1958. Small town privileged country club family - oldest daughter home after graduating from college.

All the constraints of wearing the right thing, being beautiful, and she is further hampered by being smart and ambitious.

Very interesting snap shot of that era - and of course she is about to hit the 1960's when she goes to Columbia in the fall. I really wanted to follow her through all that, but some how by the end
Oct 30, 2015 rated it did not like it
Vacuous nonsense. I found Gloria to be ridiculous and rather ignorant despite the books she supposedly devoured and the poetry she referred to as having memorized in school. I stuck with it assuming the reviews I read were somehow going to prove the over 600 page book would at some point redeem itself. Alas, nope. It pretty much sucked at character development, plot and style. I'm really wondering why some of the reviewers want to "be Gloria". Seriously? Don't waste your time.
Deborah LaRoche
Jan 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A friend suggested this book, saying it was an amazingly underappreciated novel that she knew I would love. I'm glad I trusted her opinion, because while the book is a time committment indeed, it was beautifully written and has become one of my all-time favorites. I was sucked in to the story immediately and remember having actual feelings of panic/relief during some of the more stressful scenes. I would recommend it to anyone.
Apr 18, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-fiction
I read this quite some time ago, but remember being completely absorbed in it and the title character.

Although somewhat stereotypical in that it follows the coming of age of a beautiful wealthy girl in the 50s and 60s, the book is written intelligently and with often haunting insight. The events that take place are a bit turbulent and strange at times but it's really the character's narrative built around and in reaction to these events that I was drawn to.
Apr 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: all
Gloria is the story of a sorority girl that lives both the charmed life and one of trouble. She is the polished socialite and the incredibily intelligent student. But her journey from wall flower youth to charmed sorority girl to troubled college graduate that has to balance family, school, beau and future is engaging and disarming.
Why didn't this book get more attention? I had never heard of either it or the author when it was recommended to me, but it's a book that I would think should have pretty broad appeal--a completely riveting, lyrical and highly detailed coming-of-age epic. The 50s upper-class West Virginia country club set is beautifully portrayed too.
May 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: EVERYONE!!!
Shelves: favorites
One of my top 5 books of all time, if not my very favorite. I read this book at least once a year. A very in depth look at one young woman's life as develops into womanhood in the 1950s/60s. Even more amazing that it is written by a man. This is an incredible piece of fiction and I think everyone should read it. I have never felt so passionate about a book before.
Kate SouthernBelleSimple
i adored this book and its main character, gloria. i cannot say enough good things about it. she is a heroine in every sense as she comes of age in a strange time and place. it is one of the smartest books i've ever read (for a fiction novel) and it left me wanting to learn more about the topics that gloria explores and studies. i could read it again and again.
Oct 01, 2008 rated it liked it
Wow, it's been quite awhile since it took me so long to finish a book. This one was slow reading for me. It was very different from what I usually read and even though I finished it last night, I'm still not sure entirely how I felt about this coming-of-age story in the 50's. Gloria is a unique character , to be sure, and I'm glad the ending left off where it did. Not your typical heroine.
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