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A Student of History

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  83 ratings  ·  30 reviews
Rick Nagano is a graduate student in the history department at USC, struggling to make rent on his South Los Angeles apartment near the neighborhood where his family once lived. When he lands a job as a research assistant for the elderly Mrs. W—, the heir to an oil fortune, he sees it at first simply as a source of extra cash. But as he grows closer to the iconoclastic, ch ...more
ebook, 240 pages
Published March 5th 2019 by Akashic Books
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Showing 1-30
3.58  · 
Rating details
 ·  83 ratings  ·  30 reviews

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Angela M
Feb 24, 2019 rated it liked it
“It started for the same reason that so many other things did then, because of my need for money.” Rick Nagano needs this job working for the very, very Rich Mrs. M—-, as her research assistant, transcribing her personal journals to make his rent. His graduate school stipend is barely enough. This is how he becomes entangled in the lives of these moneyed families, and the opulent lives they lived, but his involvement becomes deeper as he becomes blinded by his infatuation for a young woman in th ...more
Chris Wolak
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: review-copy
Couldn't put it down. Revoyr's writing is so good...I felt like I was walking along with Rick, looking over his shoulder.

Will someone I know please hurry up and read it so we can talk about it?!
Jessica Woodbury
Nov 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, authors-of-color
I approach the poor-person-gets-into-a-circle-of-rich-people books cautiously. They tend to follow a certain formula and glamorize wealth so much that it justifies the poor person doing whatever it takes to become part of it. This book considers that trope much more deeply, it's interested in displaying wealth to us and all that comes with it, but it's also not going to oversimplify anything. Revoyr is very skilled at diving past the surface and getting into all that's beneath.

Rick Nagano is the
Mar 30, 2019 rated it liked it

Halfway through A Student of History, I began to wonder if the book was a different one than the author intended.

The original intention, I believe was to reveal the gilded world of privilege and wealth, a world composed of its own unwritten rules, a world that is not chronicled in a newspaper. Richard Nagano, a graduate history student, stumbles into this world when he lands a position as research assistant for Mrs. W__,

From the start, the mega-wealthy Mrs. W__, is a study in contradictions: a
Kasa Cotugno
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, loc-usa-ca-s
A thoroughly enjoyable read, and this won't be the last Nina Revoyr book I'll read. Dishy stories about LaLa Land are always fun, but this one doesn't dish as much as it delves. The stories behind the history, the creators of the foundation upon which the city was founded -- She has a knack of bringing to light the underpinnings of society. There is a tad of superficiality, but that can be excused. Also, too much attention to clothing. Since the narrator is a man, this could have been dispensed ...more
Maine Colonial
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memorable, novel
I received a free advance review copy from the publisher.

Thinking back after I finished the book, I realized how much Revoyr’s ultra wealthy characters shield themselves by walls. Richard’s patron, Mrs. W__, lives high up on a Los Angeles estate so large and secluded that nobody outside her circle would even that know it—and she—were there. When Richard is introduced into that circle of old money elites, he soon learns that all over the city there are private spaces hidden from view of the hoi p
Kathleen Gray
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Interesting for its outsider take on wealth and privilege in Los Angeles-not the wealthy and privilege we think of but the "old money" (old for Los Angeles.). Rick Nagano is a grad student who can't quite pull it together to finish his degree. He gets a job transcribing the journals of Mrs. W, an oil heiress, and then finds himself pulled into her orbit. This isn't Gatsby as some have suggested but it's not meant to be. The issues of race are less important, I think, than the issues of "class" a ...more
Mar 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, amazon-vine

When graduate student Rick Nagano, accepts a part-time research job offer by wealthy socialite Mrs. W- to help him pay rent and live, he enters a world far different from his blue collar, mixed race background. The result is a study in contrasts, but also many similarities, between two Los Angeles residents. A Student of History is an interesting and fascinating look at not just current and past LA history and culture, but really American history and culture.

When Nagano, who is a burned out doct
Mary McBride
Feb 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Nina Revoyr's earlier novel Wingshooters was a favorite.
A Student of History is due out in March.
This is a Gatsby like novel of a young Japanese American man whom becomes immersed in a world of wealth and privilege in current day Los Angeles. It's a story of class and belonging and a look at the very wealthy.
This is a great study of an elite group of people and what they will do to protect their own.
Loved it and will definitely recommend for book clubs.
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This title is published by Akashic Books and was offered to me for an unbiased and honest review. Thank you.
Ms. Revoyr draws many parallels from other literary works, primarily GREAT EXPECTATIONS and THE GREAT GATSBY. I especially like thinking of our main character, Rick Nagano, as a very star-struck Nick Carraway, exposed to the glitterati of LA’s oldest, richest and most ‘entitled’ citizens. “He is a young man of modest means who is navigating a wo
Nov 13, 2018 rated it liked it
(Thank you to Akashic Books -- always so generous with their review copies.)
Mar 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Grad student Rick Nagano’s life isn’t going well. He’s been stuck on his thesis for months and sees no future for it, his grant is about to run out and not be renewed, and his girlfriend has dumped him. Then things turn better: his friend is leaving the country, and leaving her job as a research assistant to a rich woman. She’s recommended Rick for the job. When he auditions for the role, Mrs. W_ takes him on. His money woes, at least, are cured for the moment.

His job for Mrs. W_ is to read thr
Jill Meyer
Mar 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'd never heard of author Nina Revoyr til I read a review of her newest novel, "A Student of History" the other day. The book - perhaps a Gatsby-lite tale - sounded interesting so I downloaded it. A short 240 pages, the novel takes us up Bellagio Drive in Bel Air to the rarefied world of the WASP super upper class. This group is the descendants of the original settlers - the Dohenys, the Mulhollands, the Chandlers, etc - who had made their money in oil and land investments like orange groves an ...more
Eileen Granfors
Mar 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: local-color
Nina Revoyr's A STUDENT IN HISTORY is a luminous and powerful book. Her protagonist, Richard, is a somewhat lost grad student. He founders in his relationships. He is going no where on his dissertation. He takes an easy job, transcribing a socialite's diaries.

Mrs. W-- teaches him a lot about life on the other side of the rock walls in Bel Air. Not only does she offer him the chance to hobnob with her wealthy friends at countless chic events, but she provides history and commentary on the lifesty
Mar 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Student of History by Nina Revoyr (my favorite author) is unputdownable. A USC grad student, Rick Nagano, is broke and in danger of losing his fellowship. He accepts an assignment to work for Mrs. W—, an elderly American heiress in Bel-Air. Rick is hired to transcribe Mrs. W—’s journals. He gets thrown into a present-day Los Angeles version of Downton Abbey. It’s another world of families with old money—the kind with streets and buildings named after them. Mrs. W— is brilliant, beautiful, eleg ...more
Allen Pasternak
Feb 17, 2019 rated it liked it
A disappointment, I’m afraid, that has a central, ethical crisis at its core that’s rarely considered and certainly never resolved. The novel is compared to Gatsby, and its subject is the obscenely rich. I was reminded more of Norma Desmond from Sunset Boulevard, but despite the L.A. setting, these aren’t the movie industry rich. They are old money from oil and are called “street people “, because streets in the wealthy enclaves are named after them. There’s little tension built, and, quite fran ...more
Mar 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Thirty-something, Rick Nagano is a floundering grad student with little money, and a recently gone girlfriend. His fortunes change when he gets a job transcribing a stack of journals that contain the story of a family. They belong to Mrs. W__, an elderly and massively wealthy widow who happens to be the granddaughter of one of Los Angeles' founding fathers. Rick's duties include being something of an escort for Mrs. W__, giving him entree into a social circle that he, as a blue collar guy, has n ...more
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Mar 12, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
"The rich are different," though not necessarily interesting. The poor, directionless Ph.D candidate isn't much better, however. There is little beyond all the insinuated mystery, & the 'big reveals' are anticlimactic. With no real tension driving the narrative, this ends up more vignette than Bildungsroman. I thought the neighborhood in which Rick had grown up sounded more interesting than the alluring world of privilege, yet it was never developed. I received a Kindle edition from a Goodre ...more
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaway-s
Compelling story

A Student of History has a compelling story. I had a very difficult time putting this book down. I finished in a day. The characters are well drawn and the situations seem plausible (I am not among the rich and elite or among those who work with them so I don't know with any certainty). I liked reading of places I have been - Cambria, Moonshine Beach, the barbecue restaurant, etc. Ms. Revoyr is a new author to me but is one whom I will be happy to continue reading.
Apr 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: american, fiction
I've read several books by Nina Revoyr; this isn't my favorite, but I enjoyed it. The protagonist, Rick Nagano, is a graduate student in history at USC (his parents didn't buy his way in), but he's blocked on finishing his dissertation. He takes a job transcribing journals for a fabulously wealthy old woman who's one of Los Angeles's "street people"--people for whom streets are named. He comes from a working class family, and he is ill-equipped to deal with the people whom he now meets. There ar ...more
Oct 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Entertaining read, well crafted in detail of the diverse physical and emotional spaces of Los Angeles. Revoyr's protagonist is a first-generation college graduate person of color, a welcome representation in media that she depicts with authenticity.
MaryJo Hansen
Mar 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Intriguing story of a young man getting caught up in the world of extreme wealth, flying too close to the flame so to speak. I loved the California setting and the mystery that Rick uncovers. This leads to manipulation by those of wealth and power.
Mar 11, 2019 rated it liked it
The Book Cougars recommended this book. While I was swept up in the plot, suspecting that Rick’s story would come to no good end left me feeling on edge through the second half of the book. There were few nice people in the story. The super wealthy as depicted here are empty vessels.
Apr 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Lovely writing and an interesting story that kept me coming back for more.
Sarah Rockwell
Predictable and dull

Nothing too scandalous and the main character is a wimp. I didn’t like any of the characters actually. I couldn’t wait for the book to end.
Kathy Webb
I won this Kindle edition book in a GoodReads
Giveaway. Thank you to everyone involved.
Well written.
Sam Glasbrenner
I won the kindle edition of this book in a Goodreads giveaway and cannot wait to read it!
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Another Revoyr book that is thought provoking and makes me want to read it again. Interesting to have Revoyr's main character be a man. I'm not sure I got as good a sense of him as I wanted, but the women around him shone through and maybe that was how it should be.
rated it it was amazing
Apr 13, 2019
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Nina Revoyr was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and a white American father, and grew up in Tokyo, Wisconsin, and Los Angeles. She is the author of four novels. Her first book, The Necessary Hunger , was described by Time magazine as "the kind of irresistible read you start on the subway at 6 p.m. on the way home from work and keep plowing through until you've turned the last page at 3 a.m. in ...more