Read advance reader review of Margot by Wendell Steavenson

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A Novel

by Wendell Steavenson

Margot by Wendell Steavenson X
Margot by Wendell Steavenson
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  • Published Jan 2023
    288 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

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There are currently 24 member reviews
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  • Margaret R. (St Marys, GA)
    Margot, by Wendell Steavenson
    Margot, by Wendell Steavenson, was a delightful read. A bit of intrigue was accomplished by old family secrets being revealed. Social issues covered were premarital sex, which was discouraged at this time; gun violence, by the deaths of the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King, Jr.; mental illness, the mother; addiction, a family friend; abortion, a school mate.
    Unexpected events happened such as old friends entering and leaving the narrative. Exceptional characters grew and developed in the progression of the story. Descriptions of everyday were such that one could visualize the scene.
    I enjoyed the lovely lyrical writing. Striking was the phrase "hallow spaces in the self".
    Although the study of science was the base of the story along with a young ladies early experiences, the book was a delight to read.
  • Elizabeth B. (St. Louis Park, MN)
    Great details
    Female readers who grew up in the '50s or '60s will recognize many of the subtle put-downs issues to the title character. The narrative voice rings true, incorporating many details. As a Midwesterner, I always enjoy an inside look at the world of the East Coast elite.
  • Susan S. (Springdale, AR)
    I loved this book! I wish I had Margo's strength. The only child of a "raving perfectionist" mother and a "father-shaped man," she was shuttled between a Park Avenue apartment and a country estate with an ancient resident grandmother. Born with the proverbial silver spoon in her mouth, she was expected to be a social butterfly and marry well. Unfortunately, her propensity toward all things scientific coupled with her "unfortunate" towering height meant she was never good enough in her mother's eyes.

    Steavenson takes us on a historic tour of the 50's and early 60's as Margot matures during the time of sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll. The science is fascinating with a hint of what we now know as CRISPR gene editing. Everything from those decades, including the presidential assassination, Vietnam, abortion, bra burning, The Pill, child sexual abuse, date rape, MLK assassination and much more touched Margot in some way. She may have felt she was never good enough, but I think she rose above her mother's belittling to become a strong, capable young woman with a bright future ahead of her. Hooray for those who can break out of the mold. Woman Power!
  • Shirley T. (Comfort, TX)
    Margot by Wendell Steavenson
    After a slow start resembling a "young adult" novel with a neurotic, bullying mother, an absent father and a mentally impaired grandmother, the story starts in 1950s New York. The family is very wealthy and keeps to the manners of that time.

    Surviving early school years and the traumas of boarding school Margot delves into reading as an escape from her family. Her shyness develops but she learns to make some friends. There are however deep secrets in this family which do not get revealed until later in the novel. Finally succeeding in going to college Margot's persistence in reading and studying prove to be her entrance to both career success, permanent friendships and maturity.

    A major disaster changes the lifestyle of the family members but persistence prevails for Margot through her desire to resolve scientific problems and advance her career hopes.

    Throughout the story she is obsessed with several men who let her down or behave in unorthodox ways while others are helpful and necessary in her life.

    The author's inclusion of the development of cell biology and biochemistry in that 1950-1970 is fascinating, although possibly confusing to readers without that personal interest.

    Margot is an interesting and likeable character and her final decision for a change in her life makes the reader wish for a sequel to see what happens next.
  • Sarah M. (Lancaster, PA)
    I really enjoyed Margot by Wendell Steavenson. It was a quick and absorbing read, with a combination of well-developed characters and fast-moving plot. I admired Margot's ambition and desire to go to college and study science, in spite of her family's social pressures. I also felt sorry for Margot having to suffer the behavior of her dreadful mother and remote, unethical father. The book recalls historical events of the late 1960's and the struggles of women competing with and working with men in the academic world. I think this book would be a great choice for book clubs.
  • A.R.
    Poor Little Rich girl
    I did enjoy reading the book especially at the beginning...wading thru it was a slippery slope. Mother/daughter relationships can be treacherous...this mother was a witch with little hope of changing. At times, I could not fully understand Margot's friendships as her neediness was obvious to the reader. I found that her education at Radcliff became tedious and her interest in science became boring. I'm hoping that after the book was finished she found the love she was searching for.
  • Gina V. (Mesa, AZ)
    "What are we going to do about Margot?"
    Margot is an in-depth character study of a girl growing up in a wealthy, wholly dysfunctional family during the tumultuous times of the 50s and 60s. Margot's mother wants nothing more than to marry Margot off to a rich boy, but Margot is different from most of the girls she associates with - she's very tall, shy, and has a passion for science. Margot is intelligent, but can't seem to find her self-worth. I wanted to root for Margot because of her upbringing and all of the trauma and discrimination she faces, but she's so detached as to make her somewhat of an unsympathetic character. The same things keep happening to her over and over and she doesn't seem to learn from them, which I found frustrating. The other characters, with the exception of a few of her friends/classmates, had so many issues and were so self-absorbed, that it made them unlikable. The ending, while ambiguous, gave me hope that Margot was finally going to take control of her life and live it on her own terms. All-in all, it was an engaging and fast read.

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