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5.0 out of 5 stars a mother's love is blind..
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...
Published on Nov. 19 2001 by lazza

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Tough-minded Mildred runs out of steam
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...
Published on June 18 2003 by verona_beach


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3.0 out of 5 stars Tough-minded Mildred runs out of steam, June 18 2003
This review is from: Mildred Pierce (Paperback)
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. It should be noted that the ending is considerably different to that of the film, which, to my mind, ended things in a more satisfying matter - which admittedly had a classic crime story structure to its advantage.
Nevertheless, Cain's plain-spoken, tough-minded style and his talents as a storyteller make this a worthwhile read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars a mother's love is blind.., Nov. 19 2001
By 
lazza (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Mildred Pierce (Paperback)
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
This review is from: Mildred Pierce (Paperback)
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
This review is from: Mildred Pierce (Paperback)
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 review is from: Mildred Pierce (Paperback)
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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4.0 out of 5 stars Not your Typical Cain book, Oct. 29 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Mildred Pierce (Paperback)
This book covers the rise of Mildred Pierce -- a struggling, single mother during the Depression who opens a chain of successful restaraunts. Mildred's relationship with her spoiled daughter, Veda, is detailed and the focal point of the story. In addition, the various men that Mildred encounters in the book, are described as they alter the course of her life.
All in all, this book was good. It isn't your typical Cain hard-boiler... in fact to think so is extremely misleading. I'd classify this book as more literature than anything to do with crime. The movie was also WILDLY different from the book. Their endings differ greatly.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Vintage Cain at his Gutsy Best, Dec 11 2001
By 
Gary F. Taylor "GFT" (Biloxi, MS USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Mildred Pierce (Paperback)
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 all the better for it: Mildred is one tough dame, ready to do whatever it takes to keep her family going. Cain's strong prose goes straight to the stomach like a boxer's fist, and it leaves an honest impact; even if you didn't like the film you'll be proud to say you've read the book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not like the movie, Dec 1 2002
By 
annbenden (Lindenwold, NJ, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Mildred Pierce (Paperback)
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 was.
Mildred Pierce was filmed at a time when Hollywood still needed to punish evil. James M Cain knew that evil frequently fares quite well in the world.
The movie is a lot of fun all on its own, but don't confuse it with the much more complex novel.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant portrait of domestic evil, Jan. 9 2001
This review is from: Mildred Pierce (Paperback)
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 singing and a disdain for anything low. Watch as Vida climbs to the top of the radio singing world and seduces her stepfather.
Excellent character study, and source for the great film which gave Joan Crawford her Oscar®
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5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable, Jan. 1 2004
By 
Damian P. Gadal (Santa Barbara, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Mildred Pierce (Paperback)
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 comprehend - and we see this played out in the interactions of Mildred and her daughter Veda! This adds to the reader's involvement and emotional responses to this stunning and well told novel. A powerful piece of writing!
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Mildred Pierce (Movie Tie-in Edition)
Mildred Pierce (Movie Tie-in Edition) by James M. Cain (Paperback - March 22 2011)
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