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Review: BUtterfield 8, by John O'Hara


Pages: 228
Original date of publication: 1935
My edition: 200 (Vintage)
Why I decided to read:
How I acquired my copy: The Strand, NYC, July 2011

BUtterfield 8 is based on a true story. In this novel O’Hara tries to imagine what that young girl’s life might have been like. Gloria Wandrous is a party girl, familiar with the speakeasies and clubs of 1920s New York City. She falls in with a married man and spends one night at his apartment—after which she steals his wife’s fur coat. The theft leads to tragedy.

I liked the idea of the novel, but I thought it was confusing and illogical in several places; I agree with a previous reviewer who said that the relationship between Gloria and Weston Liggett didn’t seem believable. The relationship started too quickly and seemed less like a relationship and more like lust/physical attraction; I didn’t buy for a second that he was in love with her.

The tone of the novel feels very frenetic and sex-charged, probably due to the intensity of Gloria’s personality and the suddenness of her friendship with Liggett. I found that I really didn’t care for her too much; she was too self-absorbed and too attached to physical pleasure to be truly likeable. O’Hara also introduced some characters who seem to be completely superfluous to the whole point of the book. I also thought that the ending of the book was a let-down; the author builds his reader up for something much more interesting and all we get is… disappointment. The premise is good, though.


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