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Mildred Pierce by James M. Cain
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Mildred Pierce (1941)

by James M. Cain

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
I'd give Mildred Pierce 2.5 stars if I could: the writing is uneven and the characters are rather flat, but the story itself, about the Great Depression and social class is interesting.

Mildred is a memorably ruthless and pulpy character, endowed with fine legs, embarrassed to become a waitress, and entranced by her nasty daughter's uppity ways. She treats the men in her life poorly, though they often do not deserve much better.

I particularly enjoyed passages where Mildred feels overwhelmed by culture, as classical music. Mildred's only real value system involves money not the arts, so she has little use for the opera music that enters her life. Still, the "climax of Mildred's life" is a classical concert at the Hollywood Bowl, but only because the concert relates directly to her.

Mildred Pierce drags a bit in spots but vintage vocabulary, dialogue, and girdle pops liven things up. Those details may feel vintage, but certain descriptions of financial difficulties feel all too similar to what I read in the daily papers of 2008. ( )
  LizoksBooks | Dec 15, 2018 |
completely different than the movie. There is no murder in this. It's about the struggle of a woman with a difficult husband, little money, horrible daughter and more smarts and courage than the world around her ( )
  margaretfield | May 30, 2018 |
Young housewife Mildred separates from her husband Bert, forcing her to find way to support herself and her two young daughters. After some trial and error, she ends up starting her own business. Along the way, she also makes and loses friends and romantic partners.

One of those things that was really great about this book was on the surface it doesn't sound like it's about much of anything. It's a fairly simple domestic fiction, concerned with women's work and everyday life during the recovery from the Great Depression. A lot of time and detail is spent on describing Mildred's clothes, how much money it costs for dinner, and so forth, yet it's done in a way that doesn't bog down the writing at all. Every word seems necessary as Cain spins his story.

Mildred Pierce herself is an interesting character; she is not a "Mary Sue" as she definitely has flaws, but I like her on the whole and see her as both realistic and at times, relatable. Other characters are for the most part also realistic, although they vary in their likability. For instance, Mrs. Gessler is a real hoot; Monte, I despise. And, of course, there's Veda, Mildred's elder daughter who is a real snob and yet Mildred would do anything for her. She's a compelling force in Mildred's life and story.

Although as I mentioned above, Cain's writing is very succinct, it is not perfect. Writing from a woman's perspective resulted in a couple of anomalies here and there for Cain. For instance, he occasionally chalked some things up to being "feminine intuition" (those weren't the exact words, but essentially), which I feel like is something male writers put in female characters' mouths but I never actually hear women say. There were also a few times when he referred to one of Mildred's children as either "it" or "the child," which seemed much more cold and impersonal than the character would be. Given the time period of the book though, I let this stuff slide.

For the audiobook listerner, the reader (Christine Williams) was sort of "eh." She spoke very fast and breathless, which bothered me a lot in the beginning but I eventually got used to it. Some of her voices, like Mrs. Gessler, were great, while others, like Mr. Treviso, were awful. Of bigger issue was that she didn't have a large enough range of distinct voices; so for instance, Mildred and Bert sounded exactly the same and therefore it began a little more difficult to parse out dialogue when the two were engaged in a conversation. Audiobook issues aside, I quite enjoyed this book on the whole and would recommend it. ( )
  sweetiegherkin | Apr 10, 2018 |
I was in the mood for a modern classic & this had been on my TBR list for too long. So glad I read it & wish I hadn't waited so long. I'm still not sure what Vida's ultimate deal is (what an unsympathetic, nasty piece of work) but this is definitely a good look at a mother who has a child gone awry. ( )
  anissaannalise | Feb 28, 2018 |
This is a story about a mother's unhealthy relationship with her daughter and the mother's obsessive desire to do anything to gain love and acceptance from the daughter. Veda was a very self-centered and ungrateful daughter. She's the type of daughter who takes all the credit for her success but would blame her mother for her pitfalls. Her mother bent over backwards trying to please Veda but Veda was the daughter from hell. The book is a total family tragedy and a definite classic. James Cain is an excellent writer and I look forward to reading some of his other books. ( )
  EadieB | Jan 15, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Cain, James M.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Berritz, SabineTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jonas, RobertCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Napolitano, MariaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In the spring of 1931, on a lawn in Glendale, California, a man was bracing trees.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679723218, Paperback)

Mildred Pierce had gorgeous legs, a way with a skillet, and a bone-deep core of toughness. She used those attributes to survive a divorce and poverty and to claw her way out of the lower middle class. But Mildred also had two weaknesses: a yen for shiftless men, and an unreasoning devotion to a monstrous daughter.

Out of these elements, Cain creates a novel of acute social observation and devastating emotional violence, with a heroine whose ambitions and sufferings are never less than recognizable.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:43 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

"Mildred Pierce had gorgeous legs, a way with a skillet, and a bone-deep core of toughness. She used those attributes to survive a divorce and poverty and to claw her way out of the lower middle class. But Mildred also had two weaknesses: a yen for shiftless men, and an unreasoning devotion to a monstrous daughter. Out of these elements, Cain creates a novel of acute social observation and devastating emotional violence, with a heroine whose ambitions and sufferings are never less than recognizable"--P. 4 of cover.… (more)

» see all 6 descriptions

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