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The Flirt Paperback – November 3, 2006
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His serious books, Alice Adams and The Magnificent Ambersons, are top notch in terms of understanding human self rationalizations for bad behavior, but I don't like to read about crummy people so didn't really enjoy them. But if you like serious drama, I'd recommend them too because they are the best of the type (Pulitzer prize winning).
Great chracter developement..he was a Pulitzer prize winner..I can see why.
The title character is Cora Madison, the younger of the two Madison sisters. Cora overshadows her older sister, Laura, who is also beautiful, but whose personality is such that she is not noticed when Cora is around. Cora enjoys manipulating men, and the story opens with a new challenge arriving in the form of Valentine Corliss, a man who lived in Capitol City when he was young, but who is returning for the first time in many years. He happens to own the house that the Madison's live in, and he claims to be returning to sell it and gather as many funds as possible to invest in oil fields in southern Italy which have recently been discovered and few know about.
Other key characters include Richard Lindley, who was believed to be Cora's beau at the start of the book, but a man she has grown tired of; Ray Vilas, a former boyfriend of Cora's who has turned to drink in his frustration and still wants to win her back; Mr. Pryor, the one man who knows about Valentine Corliss' past; and Wade Trumble, another would-be suitor of Cora Madison. There is also the rest of the Madison family including Mr. and Mrs. Madison, and Laura and Cora's younger brother Hendrick, who delights in giving Cora grief over her trifling with men's hearts.
Cora manipulates all those around her, including her parents, with the single exception of Hendrick. However, there are others playing games as well. Mr. Corliss is trying to convince as many people as possible to buy shares in the oil fields, Laura is trying to keep peace between her warring siblings, Richard Lindley is trying to reignite Cora's interest in him, and trying to clean-up Ray Vilas.
This is a fairly enjoyable book to read, though there are definite weaknesses, especially at the end where some of the actions taken just don't seem to fit the characters. Still, it is a new type of story for Tarkington, and one which is better than many of those which he wrote earlier, though not as good as his best. Overall I give this three stars, as there were better books by Tarkington from before, and some better ones yet to come as well.