Friday, July 6, 2012

The Late George Apley (Pulitzer Winning Novel)

It seems to me that, although I have tried, I have achieved surprisingly little compared with my own father and his father, for instance. I repeat that this negative result has not been for want of trying. The difficulty seems to have been that something has always stepped in the way to prevent me. I have always been faced from childhood by obligations of convention, and all of these conventions have been made by others, formed from the fabric of the past. In some way these have stepped in between me and life. I had to realize that they were designed to do just that.
The above quote summarizes The Late George Apley by John P. Marquand. The novel won the 1938 Pulitzer Prize for the Novel and was later made into a movie. The novel describes the life of George Apley, an upper class Bostonian, who was born in 1866. The storyline begins with some background about his ancestors and ends with his death. The novel is written as a series of manuscripts, almost all letters, with the narration of a long-time friend further describing the different events. The novel touches on the changing of the generations: George’s father, George, George’s son John, and John Jr. It does a nice job of describing a man who is committed to fulfilling his social obligations.

While the novel isn’t particularly exciting and doesn’t explore the depths of the different characters, it is an enjoyable story. I felt empathy for George. While the humor was satirical, I was able to understand most of it. This is a nice book to read on a day that you just want to sit back and relax.

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