The Magnificent Ambersons
By Booth Tarkington
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The Magnificent Ambersons is Booth Tarkington's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of 1918. It features the rise and fall of the Amberson clan, primarily of George Minafer, a spoiled and somewhat despicable character who's bent on upholding the honor of his family name. It's an epic portrait of a Midwestern American family at the turn of the twentieth century, whose lives are dramatically perched on the razor's edge of a rapidly changing world. Tarkington brilliantly depicts the period when a small town grew into a city, and how the automobile morphed the landscape and its people. The Magnificent Ambersons is mainly told from George's point of view, with all of the nostalgic and romantic trappings of his family's fading legacy. There are two tragically interwoven love stories which frankly can get melodramatic at parts, but anyone with an interest in this period in history and quality literature will enjoy this well-wrought tale. Though the city described in the novel is made up, it was based on Indianapolis and the neighborhood in which Tarkington lived, Woodruff Place. In 1942 Orson Welles adapted Ambersons into an award-winning film.