Monday, 14 March 2011

A Good Read: Mildred Pierce

This is the first novel by James M Cain that I've ever read, and I can't believe that I've never read any of the books by this superb American author before. I've been missing out!

Written in 1941, Mildred Pierce follows the life and times of the title character through the depression of the 1930s in California. This sounds, well, depressing, but don't be put off - it's interesting, observational and written in such a way that I raced through it, eager to find out what happened to this frankly ordinary woman. It's the characters that she's surrounded by, particular her daughter Veda, that shape the story as their pull and push on Mildred forces her life in different directions that she wouldn't have taken on her own. Mildred's main motivation is to prove herself to her daughter, it's not about self-improvement or self-empowerment. So maybe that's hard for us to empathise with as modern women, but I still found myself on Mildred's side.

I know that a film version is being done with Kate Winslet in the title role, so I look forward to seeing that, but my parents said that an earlier version was made, starring Joan Crawford. I've looked it up and indeed, the 1945 film version is now available on DVD (you can get it here on Amazon). Joan Crawford as Mildred Pierce (photo from

Did you know that James M Cain also wrote Double Indemnity, which was made in to a fabulous Film Noir with Barbara Stanwyck? (I mentioned it here). Other films from his books include the Postman Always Rings Twice, which I confess I've never seen.

Isn't it great to discover a really good author? I've been battling through the first few chapters of Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake for the third time, in the view that it's a book that I should read, but I've given up, again, as it's just too hard going and I've not enjoyed it.

There are too many GOOD books to read, to bother struggling through ones you don't enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. I love the movies Double Indemnity and Mildred Pierce (Joan Crawford is AMAZING!) but never thought about them as being based on books. Der! I'd love to read them now - thank you so much!


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