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Mildred Pierce (Movie Tie-in Edition) [Paperback]

James M. Cain
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 22 2011 0307946592 978-0307946591 Mti
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, James M. Cain created a novel of acute social observation and devastating emotional violence, with a heroine whose ambitions and sufferings are never less than recognizable.

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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 the Audio CD edition.


“[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

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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3.0 out of 5 stars Tough-minded Mildred runs out of steam June 18 2003
It's inevitable that most readers should go into this book with the excellent film version starring Joan Crawford in their minds. However, the two are quite different beasts, which is a credit to the strength and originality of both.
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars a mother's love is blind.. Nov. 19 2001
By lazza
Mildred Pierce is one of those 'tough as nails, heart of gold' mothers who should an inspiration to all women. She kicks out her dead-beat husband, works her tail off to keep food on the table and her daughters happy, and has the guts/brains to start her own successful business. So what's wrong (and why did James M. Cain bother to write about her)?
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Focus On Mother-Daughter Instead of Man-Woman April 1 2001
I never met a James M. Cain novel I didn't like and this one was no exception. The title is of the lead character who rises to great success during the Depression with a series of restaurants in early California. However, she has one big problem: the daughter she raised alone, Veda. Veda becomes a singer and also a master at deceiving and betraying her mother. Veda does not even consider her mother's spouse, her stepfather, off limits. This showcases the same intense Cain focus on a twisted relationship but this time it is on the mother-daughter relationship, arguably a more powerful one than the lover-lover one. This was made into a movie starring Joan Crawford, who won an Oscar playing Mildred. I thought this film version went too over the top though and veered into being maudlin and soap operaish. Stick with Cain's novel, the far more complex work.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I finished this book in less than 24 hours Dec 26 2002
By jenbird
I don't know quite where to start when writing a review of this book. Even though I had seen the movie and so knew more or less how the story would unfold (or thought I did), I still couldn't put the book down. The Washington Post said that "James M. Cain is the poet of the hard-boiled school of the American novel," and that compliment is well deserved. I was immediately drawn into the story and stayed completely absorbed until the last page. As others have mentioned, the book is much darker than the movie, and more complex as well. I went back and read the last chapter over a few times just to savor the ending again. The first time it was so startling that I couldn't quite believe what I had read. This is just one example of the power of Cain's writing. It's simply remarkable.
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5.0 out of 5 stars From Rags to Riches to Murder July 16 2000
This is a classic story of a family destroyed and a mother's attempt to shield her daughter. Left financially insecure after a divorce, Mildred experiences the American dream and builds up a successful business of her own. Her happiness is marred by her cheating second husband and a rebellious daughter. The situation worsens until the climax and Mildred must then choose between herself and her daughter.
Always suspenseful and engaging, the characters in Mildred Pierce are very down to earth and believable. Although I am French and not American, I could identify with Mildred, her hopes and her fears.
This is a great book and highly entertaining.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars THE UNKINDEST CUT OF ALL...
Having loved the film, I looked forward to reading this classic novel upon which the film was based. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Lawyeraau
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable
A remarkable story of human relationships, complexities, perseverance, and weakness!
All too often people turn a blind eye to what they refuse to believe, or perhaps can't... Read more
Published on Jan. 1 2004 by Damian P. Gadal
5.0 out of 5 stars Not like the movie
I re-read this novel after recently seeing the movie again. I remembered that Cain's novel felt darker and dingier than the movie, but I had forgotten how different the novel... Read more
Published on Dec 1 2002 by annbenden
4.0 out of 5 stars Vintage Cain at his Gutsy Best
Unlike the famous film version, Cain's novel of a hard-knocks woman who dumps her no-good husband and raises the kids on her own is completely devoid of any Hollywood glamour--and... Read more
Published on Dec 11 2001 by Gary F. Taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant portrait of domestic evil
If you think that rotten, ungrateful children began in the 90's (or ended with King Lear's daughters), meet Vida Pierce, Mildred's daughter, an amoral young thing with a talent for... Read more
Published on Jan. 9 2001 by Duke
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!
This book is impossible to find in libraries. I was pleased to be able to find it at I had seen the movie with Joan Crawford over 20 years ago. Read more
Published on March 11 2000 by Jean Morris Robbins
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a great character study.
Why is this listed under crime? The only crime in this book is that Mildred loved her daughter too much. Read more
Published on April 20 1999
4.0 out of 5 stars Not your Typical Cain book
This book covers the rise of Mildred Pierce -- a struggling, single mother during the Depression who opens a chain of successful restaraunts. Read more
Published on Oct. 29 1998
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