This is a very interesting book in terms of the depth of description that Dreiser builds into, and around his characters. You gain much from what decisions the characters make, but also how they implement these, and how the society of that time and the setting defines and confines their actions and finally judges their morality. I think part of the beauty of this book is that you know that the characters have major flaws, that you can see where the narrative will eventually lead, but the descriptive language and the depth of feeling is very enriching. Despite the fact that you know where the path will finally lead, you can still feel satisfied by the journey.
If you enjoy a beautifully written novel, though profoundly sad and melancholy, then you will not be disappointed - this is not an easy reader for a Sunday afternoon... With a title like this it is not going to be a laugh a minute, but that is an understatement, it is not so much the despair but the possibility of hope snuffed out that lingers and haunts.
Unsurprisingly I was recommended this book by a Ukrainian friend while in Rostov. It is very much of the vein of Eastern European and especially Russian classical literature, but set in beginning of the last century USA, hence the title!