Genre: historical fiction / My rate: 3 stars
It’s the story of five Harvard men, the women they loved and the elegant car that came to symbolize their romantic youth. It is also a summation of the American experience during and after World War II, the story of the coming-of-age of these young men and their unshakable loyalty to the lost dream of Camelot, of grace and style, in the decades that followed.
The author Myrer was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, and grew up in the Berkshires, Cape Cod, and Beacon Hill — all settings for his novels. Around 1942 he interrupted his education at Harvard after Pearl Harbor to enlist in the Marine Corps and spent more than three years in the Pacific. Definitely, this book is quite autobiographical.
It is also a story of friendships, seen through this small group of college buddies, thrown together and held together by memories, especially of the beautiful old Packard convertible called “The Empress” (it’s a classic four door green late 1930’s Packard convertible).
In reading Myrer’s novel, one gets a feeling of the strength and passion of his moral vision (about everything: finishing school, jobs, marriage, kids etc.). It’s overall an easy reading, not for a re-read list since there’s not much to think it through, nothing in depth I recommend this light reading, anyway, to jump into an American generation.
I appreciated the homage to the Jazz music for which I have a huge passion and all his mentions to the music bands on vogue those days, but I had a feeling that the ending was rushed and I was annoyed that these characters were summing up their lives in a pathetic and suspended way. Nothing much happens, but it’s so cool being thrown into those American days of the 40s, the careless generation focused on the dance of the night and that convertible car…oh, that car…