Mildred Pierce (Movie Tie-in Edition) Paperback – Mar 22 2011
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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
Top Customer Reviews
Professionally successful, Mildred has a talent for picking the wrong men and an irrational devotion to her eldest daughter, Veda, who is morally twisted and totally monstrous. Unfortunately, Mildred does not see her daughter for what she truly is, until it is too late.
Masterfully written and thematically complex, the writing is intense, hard-boiled, and, though redolent of a bygone age, as relevant today as when it was first written. There is an undercurrent of a permeating malaise throughout the book that culminates in a shattering climax. Believe me, you will feel Mildred Pierce's pain, as she discovers how sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child, when Veda delivers the unkindest cut of all. This book is a winner and a true American classic.
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 ›
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.
Most recent customer reviews
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
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... Read morePublished on Dec 26 2002 by Jennifer M.
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 morePublished on Dec 1 2002 by annbenden
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 morePublished on Dec 11 2001 by Gary F. Taylor
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 morePublished on Jan. 9 2001 by Duke
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... Read morePublished on July 16 2000
This book is impossible to find in libraries. I was pleased to be able to find it at Amazon.com. I had seen the movie with Joan Crawford over 20 years ago. Read morePublished on March 11 2000 by Jean Morris Robbins
Why is this listed under crime? The only crime in this book is that Mildred loved her daughter too much. Read morePublished on April 20 1999
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