Links for the East Side Readers' discussion
Mildred Pierce, James M. Cain Synopsis
Generic questions
James M. Cain (bio)
James M. Cain - Biography
James M. Cain Exhibit, UM Libraries

Nice review at 2blowhards.com
 Originally from Salon.com ... tv review
 Mildred Pierce - James M. Cain (Reviews & Links) 
 Mildred Pierce by James M Cain :: Although published in 1941, and written more as a slice of life than a traditional crime novel, this is one of the most twisted novels of all time.

1 comment:

Melissa said...

Hi dto everyone in book club, sorry I won't be able to make this month's meeting....In the meantime, I LOVED this book!!!! It took me back to my days in college where I took a film noir class to help fulfill my English and writing requirements. I saw "Double Indemnity", "The Postman Always Rings Twice" and "The Maltese Falcon" just to name a few.

I found the book easy to read and not very dated. Except sometimes when the characters spoke. The relationship between Mildred and Veda is timeless. How sad and how common, the more Mildred clings, the more Veda turns from her. Isn't that still true today? How often the one(s) we love don't love us in return. Another theme I saw in it reminded me of Pearl Buck's "The Good Earth". Mildred started poor, worked hard, became wealthy, then the money was frittered away for one reason or another until she was poor again.

Veda's deliberate and casual cruelty took my breath away. I watched the interplay between mother and daughter unfold with a mix of absolute abhorrence and total fascination--kind of like watching a car crash or a celebrity's life implode publicly. You don't want to watch, you know what's coming and yet you can't look away. In some ways, by the end of the book, I was glad that Ray had died early on. The poor kid would have been majorly screwed up growing up in that toxic environment.

Don't get me started on the boyfriend/stepdad character. I wish I had a crystal ball to see into the future 10-15 years. Would he be still living with Veda? Would she still be willing to put up with that parasite and supporting him in the same way that her mom did that Veda was contemptous of? Or would she get the same karmic slap in the face when he left her for someone younger, richer or higher class? Maybe he would just cheat, would she accept that? All I could say to Veda is good luck in New York. You want to social climb? Won't be so easy there.

Last but not least, did anyone else get as creeped out as I did by Veda and his relationship? I don't mean later on--that's bad enough--but in the beginning. Maybe I'm cynical. Maybe I've watched too much "Law & Order". I was creeped out by the young Veda galivanting about while Mildred was dating the guy. It seemed a little too much of a pedophile grooming his victim, especially with how he made fun of her to Mildred when she started to develop physically.