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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars pies, pies, pies
This is a great book on lots of levels. There is fantastic detail about all sorts of topics: pies and how to make and sell them, the restaurant and real estate businesses, class differences (particularly in interior decoration), and the competitive world of professional musicians. The characters and situations are nicely varied and all very believable and you really...
Published on 1 Oct. 2010 by Mr. C. Storey

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly underrated writer......
Cain is adept at keeping his story clipping along, albeit with a few too many convenient plot twists. Veda, Mildred and Monty are all richly drawn characters, and there are several striking scenes and moments. Cain writes women well, which is sadly all too unusual for male novelists, and if you haven't read him before this is a good place to start.
Published 14 months ago by Keith Brady


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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars pies, pies, pies, 1 Oct. 2010
By 
Mr. C. Storey "penguinfavourites" (Brighton, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Mildred Pierce (Paperback)
This is a great book on lots of levels. There is fantastic detail about all sorts of topics: pies and how to make and sell them, the restaurant and real estate businesses, class differences (particularly in interior decoration), and the competitive world of professional musicians. The characters and situations are nicely varied and all very believable and you really care what happens. It is quite different to the film, so don't be put off by thinking you know the plot already if you've seen it (though I've heard rumours of a Kate Winslet remake which could be more faithful). This is an excellent option if you like the idea of 'hard-boiled' US fiction of the '30s and '40s but find crime writers like Hammett and Chandler objectionably macho. There's none of that here - we see the story from Mildred's point of view and it stays firmly rooted in a domestic and family context that makes the climactic events all the more plausible. If you like this I would also recommend Cain's 'Serenade', again a non-macho yet still hard-boiled(ish) classic with similar strengths.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading, 20 Oct. 2011
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This review is from: Mildred Pierce (Paperback)
Mildred Pierce is a gripping tale. It is the story of an abandoned wife, her business ventures, her love affairs and her family life against a background of an economic slump. She is a great character Mildred Pierce in that she is not a perfect, brave heroine, but she is a human with failings and one VERY blind spot, her love for the unworthy daughter.

The descriptions of cake-making, book-keeping, Californian middle-class homes, music lessons etc etc are so vivid that you see them with your own eyes, you live them. After reading this book, I felt as if I had visted pre-war California and begun to understand its ways, it society and its snobberies.

The book has a flaw, though. The author writes with Mildred as his focus in every scene, we are taken into her head and into her heart, BUT Mildred is female and the writer is not. At just a few points one thinks that a woman would not say or do or feel as described.

This was my first James M Cain novel. I enjoyed so much I have ordered The Postman Always Rings Twice.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Far better than the film, 28 July 2004
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Perhaps not technically in the 'film noir' genre as there is no smoking gun (unlike the joan Crawford film), Cain's writing is however gripping, and has a very modern feel. Cain achieves strong characterisation, principally by the excellent use of dialogue combined with earthy realism.
The story revolves around the destructive love of a mother for her spoilt, cold and manipulative daughter, upon whom she projects material ambitions buit fails to inculcate any moral index. Initially a victim, the eponymous hero becomes a self-made all-american success, only to be destroyed by those she loves and who have motivated her efforts to succeed.
The plot is startlingly different from the film adaptation, more convincing and bleaker if less dramatic. A suoerb holiday read
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE UNKINDEST CUT OF ALL..., 8 Mar. 2012
By 
Lawyeraau (Balmoral Castle) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Mildred Pierce (Paperback)
Having loved the film, I looked forward to reading this classic novel upon which the film was based. I must say, just as the movie kept me riveted to the screen, the book likewise kept me riveted to its pages. Darker and even more compelling than the film, the author tells the story of Mildred Pierce, a divorcee with two children who is caught in the throes of the depression of the 1930s but manages to make something of herself.

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. Bravo!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A (not so) modern fable, 10 Dec. 2011
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Syriat - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mildred Pierce (Paperback)
Mildred Pierce has been given a Hollywood and HBO treatment and the recent adaptation has been laden with awards. I haven't watched either and wanted to read this book 'clean'. I am glad I did. What Cain wrote was a cautionary tale which doesn't always deliver but is a good read that keeps its momentum throughout.

The basic story is of a mother of two children who kicks out her husband after he cheats on her and then starts her own business during the depression. Its set in California, Los Angeles area. It is told in an almost fable type narrative. Never is the reader left in any doubt what to think, the narrative takes care of this - something some readers may not like. Through various ups and downs Mildred story is unfolded and he family and friends relationships deepen. This is told with varying degrees of detail - the last act seems a little rushed if I am honest and without going into to much detail it doesn't quite follow the detail of the earlier parts which involve the eldest daughter. This leaves the reader very much feeling that this story is about the mother-daughter relationship than Mildred's own story.

This is a book that really delivers a fable. A cautionary tale on many levels. It is almost written like one and certainly it makes its judgements like one. If you like making your own judgements of characters then this may turn you off. Having said this its well a well written period piece that works well and has strong character with a good story and can be read very easily. It is getting a bit more attention now and it certainly deserves some of it.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Motherhood and apple pie, 21 May 2011
This 1941 novel opens ten years earlier, on the day Glendale housewife Mildred Pierce becomes a single mother. Exasperated by her newly unemployed husband's philandering and lack of gumption, she finally tells him to leave, and becomes the sole provider for her two young daughters, Veda and Ray. Ray is adorable. Veda, Mildred's favourite, is the most affected, snobby eleven-year-old you're ever likely to meet, in fiction or out of it. When she finds out that Mildred is supporting the family by waitressing, she's furious and contemptuous. Desperate to keep Veda's approval, on the spur of the moment Mildred claims that she intends starting a restaurant and wants to learn the business from the ground up. This is the moment which turns her life around.

I was fascinated with the details of Mildred's rise from waitress to restaurant owner. It was inspiring to see her gain confidence, realise that she has what it takes to become a successful businesswoman. In fact, it made me want to bake a pie, or sell something. Mildred's story takes place over seventy years ago, and her world has mostly vanished, yet she's a modern woman, battling with an economy very similar to today's. She's relatable.

But when it came to Mildred's personal life, far from cheering her on, I wanted to tell her to get a grip and set some boundaries. Not only does Mildred let Veda walk all over her, she acquires a socialite boyfriend, Monty, who is soon doing the same thing. She is unable to break the hold they have on her, with disastrous results.

This book made me wonder if the idea that women could never have it all, that they had to pay a price for business success, first emerged in the 1930s. Like Scarlett O'Hara, the Southern belle who builds a lumber empire in Margaret Mitchell's 1936 bestseller Gone with the Wind, Mildred attributes her survival in hard economic times to the quality of "gumption" - and like Mildred, Scarlett fails as a wife and a mother. But if Scarlett loves too little, Mildred loves too much. In this layered, compelling novel, she is both role model and cautionary tale.

The ending doesn't do justice to the power of the foregoing story, and I could see why the scriptwriters of the 1945 Joan Crawford adaptation Mildred Pierce (1945) [DVD]threw in a murder which doesn't appear in the book. (The 2011 dramatisation starring Kate Winslet is reportedly much closer to the original material.) Nevertheless, I can highly recommend this novel which reveals the dark side of motherhood, apple pie and the American Dream.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great study of relationships written in the 1930s, 30 Dec. 2012
By 
Janie U (Kings Cliffe, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mildred Pierce (Paperback)
This book is supposed to be one of the classics. I bought it ages ago on a recommendation but found the cover and blurb uninspiring so kept moving it to the bottom of my very big pile of books to read.
That fact that this book has turned out to be as promised and is a great read has made it a lovely surprise. It has been a delight to read.
Mildred splits from her husband and concentrates on her business and raising her daughter. That is basically the plot although there are lots of ups and downs on the way for her. The main focus of the novel is the relationships that Mildred has with others, particularly Veda, her daughter. All the characters that appear are well drawn and their interactions are all very convincing.
James M Cain published this book in 1941 and it has a genuine feel of how I imagine the depression felt in USA. The economy does not dominate the novel but sits brooding behind everything that happens.
I thoroughly recommend this, don't leave it as long as I did.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Forget the film ..., 1 Jun. 2010
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This review is from: Mildred Pierce (Paperback)
Because there's no crime of passion in the novel, so this isn't a film noir flashback ...
Rather it's a story of the Depression, of easy money made in the 1920s and lost in the Crash; of a determined woman laboriously building up a business through hard work and sacrifice only to lose it out of obsessive love for her daughter.
The Mildred Pierce of the novel isn't as glamorous as Joan Crawford; she's a homebody who makes her fortune from selling pies and down-home fried chicken.
Still a jolly good read, though. And there's hope for Mildred in the end when at last she can say "To hell with her ... let's get stinko!"
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read, 11 Feb. 2013
This review is from: Mildred Pierce (Paperback)
Well written gripping story of a hard working mother and a precocious materialistic daughter. Best book I have read in ages.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a great character study., 20 April 1999
By A Customer
Why is this listed under crime? The only crime in this book is that Mildred loved her daughter too much. I liked it because the main character changed over time--she wasn't a stagnant character like in so many novels. Very interesting novel, I recommend it.
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Mildred Pierce
Mildred Pierce by James M. Cain (Paperback - 23 Jun. 2011)
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