Jennifer Egan returns with her first book since Pulitzer Prize winning, A Visit From the Goon Squad. A traditional and lengthy work of historical fiction, Manhattan Beach is composed of three separate story lines: a girl’s search for fulfillment in a profession created for men, a father’s ties to mob life in New York, and a mobster’s complicated loyalties. The intrigue lies primarily in anticipating how these stories and characters will collide. I found the book to be weighed down with unnecessary historical information. Writing for The Atlantic, Ruth Franklin describes how Egan’s prose gets lost in too much historical research:
"It is disappointing to find this wonderful language sometimes buried in that bugbear of the historical novel: a surfeit of research. We learn that boxed lunches for workers at the Navy Yard cost 40 cents, and we learn what they contain. We hear a bit too much period talk: “Say, this is delicious!,” Anna says of her glass of champagne, to which her companion replies, 'Isn’t it grand?'"
I found Manhattan Beach riddled with trivial historic details, making the book longer than necessary. This was perhaps the most significant disappointment of the book for me. If you love lengthy historical fiction, you may like this.