The Magnificent Ambersons is the epic story of an American family’s traumatic tumble from the dizzying heights of fame and fortune. A dynasty spanning three generations, the Ambersons’ pre-eminence as society’s elite is threatened–not only by a hungry new breed of industrial entrepreneurs–but from its own arrogance and greed. At the center of the story is George Amberson Minafer, the pampered but pitiful, scion of the clan upon whose shoulders the fate of the family fortune will be won…or lost.
At once an exciting chronicle of a family’s rise to fortune and its tortured downfall, it is also a fascinating portrait of the forces that shaped American society.
I wasn’t very interested in this book at the beginning. Though it follows three generations of the Amberson family, after a short setup explaining the history of the Amberson family in town, it jumps right into the story of George Amberson Minafer, grandson of Major Amberson, spoiled rotten to the core, doted on by his mother, and with endless wealth and family influence in the town. I wasn’t terribly interested in reading a whole book about a spoiled wealthy kid running amok in town, but what kept me interested from the beginning, was the continued mention that the townspeople were just waiting for George Amberson Minafer to “get his come-uppance,” and I have to admit, I wanted to stick it out and see it happen myself.
But the story soon grew into something more than that. It charts the introduction of the automobile and industry into the town, and the rapid and dirty growth of the city because of it, a growth that threatens the fame and fortune the Amberson family once held in town. At the center of this growth is Eugene Morgan, automobile entrepreneur, and his daughter Lucy. Eugene was once a suitor of Minafer’s mother, Isabelle, and Minafer soon becomes suitor to Lucy. But what follows isn’t merely a love story; it’s an inspection and commentary on the changing face of industrial America.