The Gods of Newport

The Gods of Newport

3.8 21
by John Jakes

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In the late nineteenth century, Newport, Rhode Island-with its giant marble mansions, lavish dinner parties, and vicious social climbing- is a summer playground of the very rich. Into this rarefied world comes infamous railroad mogul and robber baron Sam Driver. He wants his beautiful daughter to have the best Newport has to offer-even if that means breaking all the


In the late nineteenth century, Newport, Rhode Island-with its giant marble mansions, lavish dinner parties, and vicious social climbing- is a summer playground of the very rich. Into this rarefied world comes infamous railroad mogul and robber baron Sam Driver. He wants his beautiful daughter to have the best Newport has to offer-even if that means breaking all the rules...

Editorial Reviews

The robber baron at the center of John Jakes's historical novel gains lucre, but can he win his daughter a respectable husband among the haughty rich of Newport, Rhode Island? A multi-tiered novel set in the 1890s.
Publishers Weekly
True love confronts Gilded Age class hierarchy in Jakes's latest engaging historical potboiler. Railroad tycoon Sam Driver sets out to conquer the summer resort of Newport, R.I., at the 1890s pinnacle of its glamour and snootiness in order to avenge its snubbing of his dead wife and find a prestigious match for his daughter, Jenny. It's a world ruled by New York socialites, where the slightest blemish of background or breach of protocol triggers ostracism. Sam struggles to conform while fending off the efforts of an old rival to exclude him, but Jenny throws a monkey wrench into things by falling in love with a handsome, lower-class Irishman. Jakes serves up a melodrama and satire of the tyranny of social convention with a girl-power ending. It doesn't always ring true, especially when Sam pressures Jenny to marry the obviously villainous Count Orlov, and action set pieces like a tennis match and a carriage race are less than gripping. But Jakes is a fluent storyteller, and his meticulous reconstruction of fin-de-si cle excess will have fans savoring the lavish details of jewelry, fashion, food and follies. (Nov. 7) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Jakes's latest historical novel is a very mixed bag. The details of life in the so-called Gilded Age of the 1890s are fascinating, but the political and economic travails of the rich as shown here are confusing and detract from the story. Worse, the plot is predictable. Robber baron Sam Driver made his money as a railroad mogul after the Civil War and now wants his family to be accepted in the socially elite community of Newport, RI. His daughter, Jenny, of course, falls for a poor if ambitious young Irishman but is forced to marry someone else; however, we all know she will eventually find true happiness. Those Jakes readers who enjoy his novels best when they are massive and wrapped around a major war or historical event (e.g., the Civil War in the "North and South" trilogy) will be disappointed, as this new work is on the short side, lacks drama, and is more a romance than an epic. At 74, Jakes shows no sign of stopping, but he should go back to what he does best. For larger collections.-Robert Conroy, Warren, MI Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Folksy storyteller Jakes (Charleston, 2002, etc.) directs a relatively economical drama of scandal and bad manners amid newly rich robber barons climbing the summer social ladder in Newport, RI. Having cut his teeth working for Erie Railroad moguls Jay Gould and Jim Fisk after the Civil War, Samuel Driver has gotten to be a millionaire railroad baron in his own right-the break-your-knees way. Having married the good-looking hotel dancer Grace Penny, and with a grown auburn-haired daughter named Jenny, Sam the swell is blocked from cracking polite society by the nobs at Newport, however, mainly on account of bad blood between him and William K Brady III, undercut by Driver in a Wall Street bond scheme decades before. Now, in 1893, an intruder in Driver's home leaves Grace dead from a gunshot, and Sam and 18-year-old Jenny decide to build that house in Newport after all, because Grace wanted it. Mrs. Astor, Mrs. Fish and Mrs. Vanderbilt, however, must be vanquished, and especially Mrs. William Brady, Emmeline, aka the Tigress, sherry-sodden and off her rocker, who concocts the plot to ruin Jenny Driver by urging her daughter, Honoria, to befriend the girl all the while talking ill behind her back. And Honoria has her cap set on suave young architect Dickie Glossop, but once Dickie spots Jenny, he agrees to design the new Driver cottage, despite his better social instincts. Jenny has a will of her own, though, and is terribly attracted to a handsome Irish sportsman, Prince Molloy, who wins Jenny's love but pays dearly for it when roughed up by her father's thugs. Driver, naturally, aims to have his daughter married to a titled gentleman, such as the charming, brutal Count Orlov, of bogusRussian-French title, but good enough for Driver's purposes. Historical personages blend nicely with the fictional in Jakes's neatly organized saga, and the folly and ambitions of a father and rapacious businessman are exposed and forgiven. Another well-hewn American history lesson for Jakes's devoted fans. Agent: Frank Curtis/Rembar & Curtis

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
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Penguin Group
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720 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

John Jakes is the bestselling author of Charleston, the Kent Family Chronicles, the North and South trilogy, On Secret Service, California Gold, Homeland, and American Dreams. Descended from a soldier of the Virginia Continental Line who fought in the American Revolution, Jakes is one of today’s most distinguished authors of historical fiction.

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Gods of Newport 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
lyndabv More than 1 year ago
I will read it in a car, I will read it near or far. I will read it at least as far as Newport! I cannot wait to go back to Rhode Island with this romantic, dangerous book in hand. What great summer reading under the stars along the New England Coastline. (Don't forget to stay in a spacious and tasteful B&B!) John Jakes, the godfather of historical novels, spills out a vibrant, vexacious story full of the basest motives of the upper crust and those seeking entry into the upper echelons of fabled Newport Society in its Golden Age. Tour the breakers and see it all happen on paper all over again wrapped up in the intrigues of a fictional father and daughter. Loved it!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When is John Jakes going to come out with a new book?
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Robbie241 More than 1 year ago
I have read most of the books written by John Jakes. The Kent Family series and the Crown Family series are two of my favorites of all-time. That's why it pains me to say that I couldn't finish this book. I kept waiting for it to "kick in" and it never did, or at least, not in the first 175 pages - which is about where I quit reading. Some of the characters where at least semi-interesting so I'm not exactly sure why I didn't like it. Basically, I was just bored.
redkitty More than 1 year ago
If you have ever been to Newport you will have been fascinated with it as I have been. This is a wonderful story of what life was like in Newport during the 1890s for all classes. Sam, who has clawed his way to the top through thuggish ways that led to the death of his wife, takes his daughter Jenny to Newport, where they previously weren't welcome because their money hadn't been in the family for generations. The elite, rich society of Newport - vacationing a couple of summer months in their cottages (now known as exquisite mansions) - don't care whether you earned your own money, or how much you had, just how long your family had it. There Jenny meets all types of characters, mostly rich and cruel, and a handsome young man who vies to win her even though he has no money.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Having been to Newport so many times and aiming to make Rhode Island my future home, knowing where I want to be in life after much maturing and learning some difficult lessons, I, of course, want to read as much about the Ocean State as possible-past, present, and future. Today, when I tour the Newport Mansions I have a very good perspective of what life at the turn of the century was like there-both the good and the bad aspects. The good-Alva Vanderbilt learning to let go of her daughter Consuelo so she could divorce her mother's choice of suitor and marry her own. Also, Alva's fight for women's right to vote, and including all women, regardless of social class in her meetings and gatherings was a big step for the times. The bad-those who used their social class as a weapon. The book was the typical 'good guy gets the girl he wants' ending, which was sweet, but I got more from the history than anything else.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a good book about the gilded age in American history. The characters are realistic and well developed unlike some of his recent single novels. I really enjoyed this book and can't wait for the second novel in the series!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read Jakes books in the past, and expected better. Was very disappointed. Boring had to force myself to finish it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book, I could not put it down. The characters are well developed and in the end I really wanted to see how everything would pan out for them. Jakes attention to detail is wonderful, it makes you feel like you are actually there.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Gods of Newport' is a great novel, I could not put it down! Jakes writing makes you feel like you are in the room with the characters. The characters are well written and in the end you will come to like them. The period detail is fantatstic. The perfect vacation read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A novel written by John Jakes always holds my attention. THE GODS OF NEWPORT is no different. Mr. Jakes is an excellent writer and in this novel he writes of the turn of the century from the 1800¿s to the 1900¿s. Newport was the ¿mecca center¿ for the rich and ultra rich. If you ¿made it¿ in Newport society, you were accepted in the social circles of New York City as well. Known names such as Vanderbilt give you the idea of just how wealthy these ¿Newporters¿ were expected to be. Sam Drive wants to be a part of this society. He wants this for his daughter, Jenny, as well as for himself. He was not of OLD MONEY but came up from the ranks of the poor. He has his sights set on a wealthy and titled husband for Jenny but she has other ideas even if she is slow to realize them. Sam builds a house in Newport and the architect tries to woo Jenny with less than satisfying results. Meanwhile, Prince Malloy sees Jenny at the local tennis club and picks her out as yet another conquest to ¿love¿em and leave¿em¿ to get even for the way the rich treated his deceased mother. Cupid has other ideas and when Prince and Jenny finally manage to get together, they find true love. Alas, Sam steps in and creates trouble for Prince to push him away from Jenny. He takes her to Europe and a ¿count¿ takes up with Jenny with Sam¿s approval. Sam even manages to get them married. Is this the end of true love? Oh, I can¿t tell you that but besides this main theme, there are other smaller scenarios going on so pay attention to who¿s who when listening to this audio book. I will say that the ending is left hanging, in my opinion. Mr. Jakes doesn¿t usually do this but in this one I felt he left some unanswered questions. Edward Herrmann read this novel and did a splendid job. He used different voices for the different characters which made listening to his reading very easy. No wonder he has so many theater credits to his name. If you have read other John Jakes novels, you won¿t be disappointed in this one. He adds yet another great book to his list of credits.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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GeorgiaGirlKW More than 1 year ago
I had read earlier Jakes' novels and enjoyed them. I was disappointed in this book - almost had to force myself to finish it. The characters were poorly developed and, as a reader, I never related to any of them or really cared about what happened to them. I do not recommend this book for purchase.