Manhattan Beach is dense with research and carefully placed cultural references of the time, and the result is something that’s passable as historical fiction but shallow and disappointing as a Jennifer Egan novel.
“Think about medieval times, Danny, like when this castle was built. People were constantly seeing ghosts, having visions—they thought Christ was sitting with them at the dinner table, they thought angels and devils were flying around. We don't see those things anymore. Why? Was all that stuff happening before and then it stopped? Unlikely. Was everyone nuts in medieval times? Doubtful. But their imaginations were more active. Their inner lives were rich and weird.” - Jennifer Egan.