In 1930 sixteen-year-old Marjorie Morgenstern lives with her family on the edge of Central Park. She has just come out into New York society. Her mother hopes for a glittering marriage to a good man, but Marjorie has other ideas. Spending the summer working as a drama coach, she falls desperately in love twice over: with Noel Airman, a musician, ...
In 1930 sixteen-year-old Marjorie Morgenstern lives with her family on the edge of Central Park. She has just come out into New York society. Her mother hopes for a glittering marriage to a good man, but Marjorie has other ideas. Spending the summer working as a drama coach, she falls desperately in love twice over: with Noel Airman, a musician, as reckless as he is talented; and with a dream to defy her destiny as a Jewish wife and mother and become a star of the stage. Why should she settle with being another Mrs Morgenstern, if she can succeed in the heady world of show business as Marjorie Morningstar?
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I was younger than Marjorie when I first read it, but my enjoyment more than survived adolescence and young adulthood. And it's funny that one of the all-time great ingenue books was written by a man.
It's also very much set in its time, in the 30s with the Holocaust on the horizon (and though there are rumblings of distant thunder, it's not a major theme). Experiencing the era's Jewish middle-class Manhattan culture is a bonus.
But I think the primary attraction, besides the flawless, captivating language, was the iconic characters of Marjorie and her long-time love, songwriter Noel Airman (from Ehrmann, if I recall). If you don't know them, you should.
Lastly, it provided me with a frame of reference - a bittersweet one - for the resolution of great promise.
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