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Mildred Pierce Paperback – May 14, 1989
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From Publishers Weekly
Cain's classic novel, and the source for the 1945 film starring Joan Crawford, makes its way onto audio with this reading by actor and singer Williams. Cain's purple prose and then-scandalous dialogue take on new life under Williams's direction, her assured tone underscoring the legendary noir writer's rip-roaring tale of a woman scorned who survives no-good men and a hateful daughter to make it in 1930s Los Angeles. Williams is out of her depth encountering tense or high-pitched dialogue, reading it in a clipped monotone that does little for Cain's drama, but is on far stronger ground with the rest of the book, which flourishes under her steady, patient, ever-so-slightly melancholic gaze. Williams's reading lacks the rage that moved Crawford's Mildred, but her version of the now-familiar story amplifies our sense of Cain's heroine as an abandoned woman who finds her own way, on her own terms. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
''[James M. Cain is] the poet of the hard-boiled school of the American novel.'' --The Washington Post
''Nobody has quite pulled it off the way Cain does, not Hemmingway, and not even Raymond Chandler.'' -- Tom Wolfe
''Cain can get down to the primary impulses of greed and sex in fewer words than any writer we know of.'' --The New York Times
''A novel that, once begun, will almost surely be read to the end . . . it reflects no codes, no restrictions, and none but the primordial necessities. It is a bath in sensation.'' --New York Times Book Review
''[Mildred Pierce] take[s] on new life under Williams's direction . . . [the story] flourishes under her steady, patient, ever-so-slightly melancholic gaze. Williams's reading . . . amplifies our sense of Cain's heroine as an abandoned woman who finds her own way, on her own terms.'' --Publishers Weekly --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Unable to face reality, Mildred is the victim of her own blindness to her rotten eldest daughter's ways. Not only is her daughter unappreciative, she actually ridicules her mother as being some uncouth and ignorant embarassment. Mildred's toughness melts when confronting her monster daughter, much to her detriment. While a heartbreaking story overall, the ending is especially moving ... have your hankies ready.
Perhaps many folks reading this review has seen the famous film adaption (starring Joan Crawford) of Mildred Pierce. While the film generally carries the intent of James M. Cain's written word, there are several differences. Obviously Hollywood wanted to over-dramatize, or simply invent scenes. As much as I like the movie I enjoyed the book more; I found it to be more personal , intense and believable.
Bottom line: required reading by all mothers, strongly recommended to everyone else.
This is not a crime novel as the film implied, but a tough Depression era story of a woman determined to get by in a world of snobbery and class prejudices that even she herself cannot deny that she holds. When she becomes a single mother, Mildred is ashamed to have to take on a job as a waitress to keep her children in the relatively wealthy lifestyle to which they are accustomed. With nothing more than determination, she becomes the mistress of a restaurant empire and a wealthy businesswoman. But none of this is enough to endear her to her spitfire daughter Veda, whom she both dislikes and passionately admires.
It comes as a surprise that the Mildred of Cain's novel is more a Veronica Lake than a Crawford, a short-skirted coquette who uses her physical as well as mental assets to achieve what she needs. More complex is Mildred's relationship with Veda, and the character of Veda herself, a swaggering, overbearing, thoroughly nasty piece of work. If you thought Ann Blyth's Veda was unlikeable, meet this one! It's even more clear here that Mildred's motherly love has turned into unhealthy obsession. Unlike the film, the monster that is Veda is never really exorcised here.
It's the ending of the book which lets the rest down. The final quarter seems hasty - it smacks of an author who is getting a little tired of his characters and has run out of hoops for them to jump through. And while the book closes on a bleak sort of denouement, no real sense of conclusion or capitulation is gained.Read more ›
Visit my blog with link given on my profile page here or use this phonetically given URL (livingasseniors dot blogspot dot com). Friday's entry will always be weekend entertainment recs from my 5 star Amazon reviews in film, tv, books and music. These are very heavy on buried treasures and hidden gems. My blogspot is published on Monday, Wednesday & Friday.
As much as people love the Curtiz/Crawford film, its wellspring is overall a much finer, deeper work. Where the movie panders to its audience by including a murder that doesn't occur here (and needn't), Cain never once takes the easy route of administering easy moments of "justice" (read enough noir and that word will never seem the same...). He knows how people work, and it ain't very pretty most of the time, and he ain't afeared that we'll be unentertained when things go all too realistically.
Our heroine here is in most respects a very sympathetic lady, and we start pulling for her right out of the gate. But Cain doesn't let us off that easy. He also shows Mildred's various flaws, the fatal one being her obsessive love/worship/need for the respect of her daughter Veda. After a while any sane reader has to start disliking Mildred a bit for this myopia, and wondering how a woman so bright in other matters can be so blind regarding her daughter. Yet Cain paints her portrait so thoroughly, blemishes and all, that we must eventually forgive her this tragic blindness and thus suffer with her as she is mistreated ever more hideously by her demon progeny.
Veda is so ruthless, and ruthlessly portrayed, that it gets a bit much at times, and we begin to lust for her comeuppance. What makes Cain so intensely unforgiving, and accurate, is that she never gets it.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Always loved the old B&W movie & enjoyed the book much more... Every bit the soap opera!Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
I'm curious to read other reviews. I'd say nine-tenths of "Mildred Pierce" is amazing, but the ending was a real let-down. Read morePublished 4 months ago by jong44
Follows the movie rather loosely.... But ..... I had to know how Mildred was going to juggle it all, divorce, death, dead beats and the diva.Published 6 months ago by MaryAnnSki
I enjoyed it! It was a quick read for me and I can definitely see why it might be regarded as a classicPublished 6 months ago by Emily Godlove
Good book, interesting read but a little dated. I read this book along with my Reading Films class and it was an interesting study of how narrative is translated to movies and tv. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Amazon Customer