Ragtime: high quality A Novel (Modern popular Library 100 Best Novels) outlet online sale

Ragtime: high quality A Novel (Modern popular Library 100 Best Novels) outlet online sale

Ragtime: high quality A Novel (Modern popular Library 100 Best Novels) outlet online sale
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Published in 1975, Ragtime changed our very concept of what a novel could be. An extraordinary tapestry, Ragtime captures the spirit of America in the era between the turn of the century and the First World War.

The story opens in 1906 in New Rochelle, New York, at the home of an affluent American family. One lazy Sunday afternoon, the famous escape artist Harry Houdini swerves his car into a telephone pole outside their house. And almost magically, the line between fantasy and historical fact, between real and imaginary characters, disappears. Henry Ford, Emma Goldman, J. P. Morgan, Evelyn Nesbit, Sigmund Freud, and Emiliano Zapata slip in and out of the tale, crossing paths with Doctorow''s imagined family and other fictional characters, including an immigrant peddler and a ragtime musician from Harlem whose insistence on a point of justice drives him to revolutionary violence.

The Modern Library has played a significant role in American cultural life for the better part of a century. The series was founded in 1917 by the publishers Boni and Liveright and eight years later acquired by Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer. It provided the foundation for their next publishing venture, Random House. The Modern Library has been a staple of the American book trade, providing readers with affordable hardbound editions of important works of literature and thought. For the Modern Library''s seventy-fifth anniversary, Random House redesigned the series, restoring as its emblem the running torch-bearer created by Lucian Bernhard in 1925 and refurbishing jackets, bindings, and type, as well as inaugurating a new program of selecting titles. The Modern Library continues to provide the world''s best books, at the best prices.

About the Author

E. L. Doctorow’s works of fiction include Welcome to Hard Times, The Book of Daniel, Ragtime, Loon Lake, World’s Fair, Billy Bathgate, The Waterworks, City of God, The March, Homer & Langley, and Andrew’s Brain. Among his honors are the National Book Award, three National Book Critics Circle awards, two PEN/Faulkner awards, and the presidentially conferred National Humanities Medal. In 2009 he was shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize, honoring a writer’s lifetime achievement in fiction, and in 2012 he won the PEN/ Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction, given to an author whose “scale of achievement over a sustained career places him in the highest rank of American literature.” In 2013 the American Academy of Arts and Letters awarded him the Gold Medal for Fiction. In 2014 he was honored with the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

In 1902 Father built a house at the crest of the Broadview Avenue hill in New Rochelle, New York. It was a three-story brown shingle with dormers, bay windows and a screened porch. Striped awnings shaded the windows. The family took possession of this stout manse on a sunny day in June and it seemed for some years thereafter that all their days would be warm and fair. The best part of Father''s income was derived from the manufacture of flags and buntings and other accoutrements of patriotism, including fireworks. Patriotism was a reliable sentiment in the early 1900''s. Teddy Roosevelt was President. The population customarily gathered in great numbers either out of doors for parades, public concerts, fish fries, political picnics, social outings, or indoors in meeting halls, vaudeville theatres, operas, ballrooms. There seemed to be no entertainment that did not involve great swarms of people. Trains and steamers and trolleys moved them from one place to another. That was the style, that was the way people lived. Women were stouter then. They visited the fleet carrying white parasols. Everyone wore white in summer. Tennis racquets were hefty and the racquet faces elliptical. There was a lot of sexual fainting. There were no Negroes. There were no immigrants. On Sunday afternoon, after dinner, Father and Mother went upstairs and closed the bedroom door. Grandfather fell asleep on the divan in the parlor. The Little Boy in the sailor blouse sat on the screened porch and waved away the flies. Down at the bottom of the hill Mother''s Younger Brother boarded the streetcar and rode to the end of the line. He was a lonely, withdrawn young man with blond moustaches, and was thought to be having difficulty finding himself. The end of the line was an empty field of tall marsh grasses. The air was salt. Mother''s Younger Brother in his white linen suit and boater rolled his trousers and walked barefoot in the salt marshes. Sea birds started and flew up. This was the time in our history when Winslow Homer was doing his painting. A certain light was still available along the Eastern seaboard. Homer painted the light. It gave the sea a heavy dull menace and shone coldly on the rocks and shoals of the New England coast. There were unexplained shipwrecks and brave towline rescues. Odd things went on in lighthouses and in shacks nestled in the wild beach plum. Across America sex and death were barely distinguishable. Runaway women died in the rigors of ecstasy. Stories were hushed up and reporters paid off by rich families. One read between the lines of the journals and gazettes. In New York City the papers were full of the shooting of the famous architect Stanford White by Harry K. Thaw, eccentric scion of a coke and railroad fortune. Harry K. Thaw was the husband of Evelyn Nesbit, the celebrated beauty who had once been Stanford White''s mistress. The shooting took place in the roof garden of the Madison Square Garden on 26th Street, a spectacular block-long building of yellow brick and terra cotta that White himself had designed in the Sevillian style. It was the opening night of a revue entitled Mamzelle Champagne, and as the chorus sang and danced the eccentric scion wearing on this summer night a straw boater and heavy black coat pulled out a pistol and shot the famous architect three times in the head. On the roof. There were screams. Evelyn fainted. She had been a well-known artist''s model at the age of fifteen. Her underclothes were white. Her husband habitually whipped her. She happened once to meet Emma Goldman, the revolutionary. Goldman lashed her with her tongue. Apparently there were Negroes. There were immigrants. And though the newspapers called the shooting the Crime of the Century, Goldman knew it was only 1906 and there were ninety-four years to go.

Mother''s Younger Brother was in love with Evelyn Nesbit. He had closely followed the scandal surrounding her name and had begun to reason that the death of her lover Stanford White and the imprisonment of her husband Harry K. Thaw left her in need of the attentions of a genteel middle-class young man with no money. He thought about her all the time. He was desperate to have her. In his room pinned on the wall was a newspaper drawing by Charles Dana Gibson entitled ''The Eternal Question.'' It showed Evelyn in profile, with a profusion of hair, one thick strand undone and fallen in the configuration of a question mark. Her downcast eye was embellished with a fallen ringlet that threw her brow in shadow. Her nose was delicately upturned. Her mouth was slightly pouted. Her long neck curved like a bird taking wing. Evelyn Nesbit had caused the death of one man and wrecked the life of another and from that he deduced that there was nothing in life worth having, worth wanting, but the embrace of her thin arms.

The afternoon was a blue haze. Tidewater seeped into his footprints. He bent down and found a perfect shell specimen, a variety not common to western Long Island Sound. It was a voluted pink and amber shell the shape of a thimble, and what he did in the hazy sun with the salt drying on his ankles was to throw his head back and drink the minute amount of sea water in the shell. Gulls wheeled overhead, crying like oboes, and behind him at the land end of the marsh, out of sight behind the tall grasses, the distant bell of the North Avenue streetcar tolled its warning.

Across town the little boy in the sailor suit was suddenly restless and began to measure the length of the porch. He trod with his toe upon the runner of the cane-backed rocking chair. He had reached that age of knowledge and wisdom in a child when it is not expected by the adults around him and consequently goes unrecognized. He read the newspaper daily and was currently following the dispute between the professional baseballers and a scientist who claimed that the curve ball was an optical illusion. He felt that the circumstances of his family''s life operated against his need to see things and to go places. For instance he had conceived an enormous interest in the works and career of Harry Houdini, the escape artist. But he had not been taken to a performance. Houdini was a headliner in the top vaudeville circuits. His audiences were poor people--carriers, peddlers, policemen, children. His life was absurd. He went all over the world accepting all kinds of bondage and escaping. He was roped to a chair. He escaped. He was chained to a ladder. He escaped. He was handcuffed, his legs were put in irons, he was tied up in a strait jacket and put in a locked cabinet. He escaped. He escaped from bank vaults, nailed-up barrels, sewn mailbags; he escaped from a zinc-lined Knabe piano case, a giant football, a galvanized iron boiler, a rolltop desk, a sausage skin. His escapes were mystifying because he never damaged or appeared to unlock what he escaped from. The screen was pulled away and there he stood disheveled but triumphant beside the inviolate container that was supposed to have contained him. He waved to the crowd. He escaped from a sealed milk can filled with water. He escaped from a Siberian exile van. From a Chinese torture crucifix. From a Hamburg penitentiary. From an English prison ship. From a Boston jail. He was chained to automobile tires, water wheels, cannon, and he escaped. He dove manacled from a bridge into the Mississippi, the Seine, the Mersey, and came up waving. He hung upside down and strait-jacketed from cranes, biplanes and the tops of buildings. He was dropped into the ocean padlocked in a diving suit fully weighted and not connected to an air supply, and he escaped. He was buried alive in a grave and could not escape, and had to be rescued. Hurriedly, they dug him out. The earth is too heavy, he said gasping. His nails bled. Soil fell from his eyes. He was drained of color and couldn''t stand. His assistant threw up. Houdini wheezed and sputtered. He coughed blood. They cleaned him off and took him back to the hotel. Today, nearly fifty years since his death, the audience for escapes is even larger.

The little boy stood at the end of the porch and fixed his gaze on a bluebottle fly traversing the screen in a way that made it appear to be coming up the hill from North Avenue. The fly flew off. An automobile was coming up the hill from North Avenue. As it drew closer he saw it was a black 45-horsepower Pope-Toledo Runabout. He ran along the porch and stood at the top of the steps. The car came past his house, made a loud noise and swerved into the telephone pole. The little boy ran inside and called upstairs to his mother and father. Grandfather woke with a start. The boy ran back to the porch. The driver and the passenger were standing in the street looking at the car: it had big wheels with pneumatic tires and wooden spokes painted in black enamel. It had brass headlamps in front of the radiator and brass sidelamps over the fenders. It had tufted upholstery and double side entrances. It did not appear to be damaged. The driver was in livery. He folded back the hood and a geyser of white steam shot up with a hiss.

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4.4 out of 54.4 out of 5
804 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Mark Ellins
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Either you will like the style or not
Reviewed in the United States on March 15, 2019
I''m still undecided if I liked the style of this book or not. I love historical fictions, and this book does fall under that category. This is not a single story with a beginning, middle and end or even focus on a single set of characters, but rather a snap shot of the... See more
I''m still undecided if I liked the style of this book or not. I love historical fictions, and this book does fall under that category. This is not a single story with a beginning, middle and end or even focus on a single set of characters, but rather a snap shot of the beginning of the 20th century. It is a mesh of stories that bump and overlap into one another with no coherent story line. There are famous people that were present during that period, like Harry Houdini, that he inserts into the story line. At the beginning, I didn''t like it but I started getting to use it, and eventually I finished the book. I am not sure I can recommend this book because I am still not sure I liked the style. The period is interesting so I recommend you start and try a couple of chapters, and then decide to continue.
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lakeso
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
This is a good novel, and surprisingly relatable to our times
Reviewed in the United States on May 9, 2019
This is the first time I read a book through voice (by Doctorow). It makes my reading faster (I used to be a slow reader without it. And Doctorow read quite fast, I think). Don''t want to be a spoiler, so I don''t cite the story around Coalhouse Walker here. But I... See more
This is the first time I read a book through voice (by Doctorow). It makes my reading faster (I used to be a slow reader without it. And Doctorow read quite fast, I think).

Don''t want to be a spoiler, so I don''t cite the story around Coalhouse Walker here. But I want to say his story doesn''t feel old or out of time when you read in this era, 2019 America, although the story is about an America before WWI (Doctorow mentioned the gossip story about many American celebrities around that era). My experience of reading the story is at the start I felt the mini-stories around the celebrities and the antagonist''s family quite trivial (though enjoyable). Then, right from the moment Coalhouse Walker stepped into the scene I felt the rhythm of the story tonality change suddenly. And I found his reaction to what happened to him absurd, unimportant, him over the board, just like the characters around him felt. Then step by step Doctorow showed me that no I''m wrong. It''s important. It''s minor, but it''s important, and his reaction''s reasonable and justifiable. And finally, I felt I learned it. The more time I think of it the more I feel that I learned it. Some authors like to say Reading fiction teaches one empathy. And reading this book I experience what this quote actually means.

Surprisingly, that rage didn''t fade since Doctorow wrote this book. The rage is still here around America, the contemporary America. Likewise, American white, as those fictional characters in the story, adopt the same burlesque attitude towards what the Black America is still encountering with every day. And we have an American president who''s embodied the soul of the Chief Fireman in the story. It makes the story surprisingly relatable to our times.

Highly recommend it.
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katewickham
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
As important today as it was when written.
Reviewed in the United States on January 25, 2018
Written in 1974 about the period of early 1900s and in some ways pertinent today. I actually highlighted portions. "The laboring man would be protected and cared for not by the labor agitators, said one wealthy man, but by the Christian men to whom God in His... See more
Written in 1974 about the period of early 1900s and in some ways pertinent today. I actually highlighted portions.

"The laboring man would be protected and cared for not by the labor agitators, said one wealthy man, but by the Christian men to whom God in His infinite wisdom had given the control of the property interests of this country."
Doctorow, E.L. Ragtime: A Novel (Modern Library 100 Best Novels) (p. 40). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

"For several years the Association of Police Chiefs of the State of New York has passed a resolution calling for the licensing of automobiles and automobilists. If that were the law today we could track the brute down. The Chief as he spoke emptied the drawers of his desk. He puffed a cigar. He walked out with the reporters. The next day a bill to license automobiles was introduced in the State Legislature."
Doctorow, E.L. Ragtime: A Novel (Modern Library 100 Best Novels) (p. 170). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

The first quote is apropos of recent debates about raising the minimum wage and providing health care. The second may provide context for why automobiles are regulated and registered and guns sales & ownership don''t have to meet the standards imposed for autos.

There is always a strong valid reason for why certain books and/or authors become classics, and the timeliness of the messages is certainly a measure. In the pre-publication (1974) years among the most discussed issues were whether women could be fired for becoming pregnant (employers still routinely asked women about plans for a family), maternity benefits, and birth control and family planning because of issues of overpopulation leading to today''s debates on the impact of the migration of whole populations due to wars and climate change.
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R.R. Lexical
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Struggle in America brought alive
Reviewed in the United States on August 26, 2019
In a unique narrative fashion that is both rapid fire and detailed, Doctorow tells the story of several people in the early 1000s in New York City. The characters are drawn carefully and fully, each unique in their strengths and weaknesses. Father is an Arctic explorer... See more
In a unique narrative fashion that is both rapid fire and detailed, Doctorow tells the story of several people in the early 1000s in New York City. The characters are drawn carefully and fully, each unique in their strengths and weaknesses. Father is an Arctic explorer and successful in his flag/fireworks business, but fails in marriage. Mother tolerates his rutting, but wants more, which she finds in adopting young black woman and her infant son. Younger brother is infatuated by a society beauty, is rejected, then turns to communism. Houdini seeks the ever elusive fame and worth. A single Jewish father finds a path out of poverty for himself and his daughter. A society beauty fades away. An accomplished and well-to-do pianist, father of the adopted child, comes calling. An act of wanton discrimination and destruction ignites events that kill the black woman and bring a killing response. The writing is powerful, the imagery memorable, and the central theme of discrimination stays with the reader.
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T-Rex 5
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Easily A "Great American Novel"
Reviewed in the United States on April 22, 2020
This book is easily the kind of book that people think of when they think of a "great American novel." It transcends time and puts the reader squarely into turn of the century living in New York. This isn''t a common time period for authors to use, so it''s important that it... See more
This book is easily the kind of book that people think of when they think of a "great American novel." It transcends time and puts the reader squarely into turn of the century living in New York. This isn''t a common time period for authors to use, so it''s important that it is dramatized so well in this book. The author writes in a way that is hard to describe, a mix of 3rd person with almost a dissociated 1st person. It gives one the feel of observing everything that is happening, but not actually being a part of it. I think this enhances the "look back in time" feel of the book. The story itself is historical fiction, weaving fiction with fact so expertly, that it is hard to know where one ends and one begins. After finishing the book, I had to look up several of the characters to find out which ones were real and which ones were fictional. The book covers several different characters from different facets of life, all the characters eventually interweave into each others life. Racism and classism were normal at the time, and highlighted in the book. While the characters were all distinct in the book, none of them stood out at as main characters, rather they were all just part of the story of life at the turn of the century. The book is written intelligently and uses a variety of vocabulary not often found in books. The story lines are very intriguing and full of action and suspense, but this book is more about immersing oneself in the time period and culture, then it is about unique characters and storylines.
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JHBpgh
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Ragtime Classic
Reviewed in the United States on August 28, 2020
What a delicious and intriguing 1975 book of fiction and history did Doctorow weave together about the early part of the 20th century. Many of the characters are real (magician Harry Houdini, actress-model Evelyn Nesbit, car manufacturer Henry Ford, politician Teddy... See more
What a delicious and intriguing 1975 book of fiction and history did Doctorow weave together about the early part of the 20th century. Many of the characters are real (magician Harry Houdini, actress-model Evelyn Nesbit, car manufacturer Henry Ford, politician Teddy Roosevelt, financier J.P. Morgan, educator Booker T. Washington, explorer Robert Peary, anarchist Emma Goldman, Henry Thaw of Pittsburgh who kills Stanford White), and interact with the fictional family with generic names from which the story revolves. There are themes involving race, ethnicity, sex, immigrants, justice, rich-middle-poor classes, dignity, love, death, acceptance or not of changing times, etc. It is both serious and funny with multiple stories weaving in-out-together. Still wondering who the narrator is. The fireworks of your brain will be inspired. Has also been made into a movie and a musical. I watched the movie after, which is great for comparison as they are not exactly alike. I would rate the book a 5.
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Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Still an innovative and insightful look at the beginning of America''s 20th century!
Reviewed in the United States on January 23, 2021
I had not read this work since the mid-1970s when it was first published, and it seems more relevant to me now amid our divisions of 2021. Doctorow skillfully weaves a multi-layered story of the country in the early 20th century (around 1906 through WWI), introducing us... See more
I had not read this work since the mid-1970s when it was first published, and it seems more relevant to me now amid our divisions of 2021. Doctorow skillfully weaves a multi-layered story of the country in the early 20th century (around 1906 through WWI), introducing us to memorable fictional characters such as Coalhouse Walker and his beloved Sarah, living amid historical ones, e.g., Houdini, J.P. Morgan, Emma Goldman, and Henry Ford. In our present struggle over immigrants and immigration, this is a must-read or a meaningful re-read which might be done in one or only a few sittings. I still find Ragtime to be a well-composed creative, challenging and Truth-full song of the often messy, dynamic, and terrifying magnificence of the American Story.
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JBK
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Somewhat Raggedy
Reviewed in the United States on February 27, 2021
Doctorow is somewhat of an iconoclast, and this novel reflects his divergent mind. He writes well, but he''s all over the place in sequencing it. It felt chopped up. The other problem was that the main character, Coalhouse Walker, is kind of a phantom. Doctorow never got... See more
Doctorow is somewhat of an iconoclast, and this novel reflects his divergent mind. He writes well, but he''s all over the place in sequencing it. It felt chopped up. The other problem was that the main character, Coalhouse Walker, is kind of a phantom. Doctorow never got me into his mind, the depths of his anguish, or his motivation enough to accept his extraordinary conduct. Coalhouse was rendered as the guest at the door, and the spotlight never focused well enough, or long enough, for me to identify with him.
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Top reviews from other countries

Martin Jones
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Trouble On The Production Line
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 25, 2017
While books usually come in recognisable, almost standardised, genres - thrillers, romances, vampire teen and so on - it’s difficult to place Ragtime. This strange book weaves a story around real and imagined characters from early twentieth century America. The closest...See more
While books usually come in recognisable, almost standardised, genres - thrillers, romances, vampire teen and so on - it’s difficult to place Ragtime. This strange book weaves a story around real and imagined characters from early twentieth century America. The closest you''d get to a classification is "historical fiction". It opens by introducing an ordinary middle class American businessman running a company making fireworks and patriotic bunting. Then we follow the story of a struggling artist and his daughter. These two threads merge with episodic tales involving escape artist Harry Houdini, society beauty Evelyn Nesbit, psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, financier J.P. Morgan and carmaker Henry Ford. Even though this book is difficult to classify, I couldn’t help noticing that its unpredictable pages had many references to highly predictable and repetitive processes. There was Henry Ford for example, building a car every sixty seconds on his production line in Michigan. We go to baseball games and see repetitive sequences of play. In a conversation with Ford, J.P. Morgan talks about recurring patterns in the design of all lifeforms. Layered on top of this sense of repetition we have what Harold Macmillan might have referred to as “events, dear boy, events.” There is narrow-minded viciousness, with disastrous consequences. There is principled behaviour, which rather than bringing order, becomes destructive in its obsessiveness. There''s also the age-old drive of group identification, which tears people apart even more powerfully than it pulls them together. The early twentieth century created mechanised mass production and the society built upon it. Nevertheless, modern life remains chaotic. This paradox drives Ragtime. It’s like a printing press casually churning out a book that a writer went through hell to write. Ragtime is a style of music based on the regularity of a march, but stressing the offbeat in such a way that the beat is intensified. Irregularity and regularity combine to give the excitement of this music’s overall effect. E.L. Doctorow’s remarkable novel works in the same way.
6 people found this helpful
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Sally
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Layers of America
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 11, 2013
First published in the 1970s this is a brilliant, vivid, daring story of the ragtime era - a time that defines the American character with all its contradictions. Here real figures like Houdini, Freud, Ford and Emma Goldman mingle with a gallery of New Yorkers, from...See more
First published in the 1970s this is a brilliant, vivid, daring story of the ragtime era - a time that defines the American character with all its contradictions. Here real figures like Houdini, Freud, Ford and Emma Goldman mingle with a gallery of New Yorkers, from struggling immigrants to fifth avenue millionaires. Written in a short-sentence, rhythmic style echoing the style of the book''s title, Ragtime is an unmissable classic from a giant of American contemporary literature.
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Will Lusty
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
American realist
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 7, 2014
This is a clearheaded portrait of an era we''ve all heard so much about. Through Hollywood movies and general fiction we are lead to believe that Gangsters ruled and everyone was laughing, drinking and dancing but who swept the streets? Who baked the bread? Doctorow opens up...See more
This is a clearheaded portrait of an era we''ve all heard so much about. Through Hollywood movies and general fiction we are lead to believe that Gangsters ruled and everyone was laughing, drinking and dancing but who swept the streets? Who baked the bread? Doctorow opens up a richer vision of an era by focusing on three families, one black, one Jewish and one white middle class. We still get a History through the headline acts, such as J.P.Morgan, Harry Houdini & Henry Ford but also of changing philosophies through feminism and emancipation as America exploded into the 20th Century. It should be read by every American teenager & adult! (if it''s not already) and others besides. Now an established classic with good reason.
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TJ
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Beautiful writing
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 6, 2019
A brilliant insight into early twentieth century America. Fascination for how the relationships develop and the characters connect keeps the pages turning. A classic.
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Mr. Alan Fresco
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Totally enthralled by descriptions of the characters and the settings.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 7, 2021
The best novel I''ve ever read. In fact, I read it in one sitting whilst on holiday in a very Bournemouth in Dorset, England. It is a wonderfully gripping, vividly detailed amalgam of characters and times. I couldn''t put it down till the end.
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Ragtime: high quality A Novel (Modern popular Library 100 Best Novels) outlet online sale

Ragtime: high quality A Novel (Modern popular Library 100 Best Novels) outlet online sale

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