Saturday, March 29, 2008


This book was written around 1900. I hated the book. Hate is a strong word...I think I mostly hated wasting my time reading it when I could have read something better. Why did I read it? BECAUSE it was selected for a book group by a new member. The new member happens to be about 16 yrs. old and this book was assigned to be read in her English class in High School. I was curious to see what kind of books were required in HS for this age. I WAS SHOCKED as I read this book that 16 yr. old girls were reading this type of book. What type...the smutty type. Yep, it is a broken book. It is seems innocent enough because the time it was written they didn't write about infidelity and get into the hot and steamy details of sex BUT despite NOT having it spelled out for us it is there. Of course I had to finish the book to find out what became of all the drama and to find out what the big deal was about the book in the first place.

The girl the story is based around comes to Chicago to find work. Doesn't and then ends up shacking up with a guy for a while then leaving him and shacking up with another guy. She goes from a poor girl with no future to getting a job in a theater, becoming a star and having plenty of money to live an easy life. One of the guys in the story end up opposite from where he started, poor and homeless and one ends up just doing the same old same old. It is kind of a rags to riches story and a riches to rags story all in one ONLY there was a lot of just plain luck involved and of course some unlucky moments too. The girl is so shallow and we never get to really see what she is feeling or thinking other then she wishes she could wear expensive cloth and shoes.

The one good part about the book is the fact that Dreiser reports the reality of living in a big city at the beginning of the twentieth century. It was hard work to earn just a little. People worked in factories. The rich were bored and had nothing else to do but sit around and spend more money. AND as sister Carrie finds out, money doesn't make you happy. She was sad most of her life, rich or poor. She was also very lonely despite fame and fortune in the end.

Interesting yet disturbing because of the common place manner the author portrays a young girl seduced and living a lifestyle with what seems to be no way out without ending up on the street starving to death or working in a horrible factory for barely nothing to maybe survive on. So she just pretends to be the "wife" of the guy she lives with and he gets a free bed warmer and someone to fix his food and clean his house. She gets a place to live without working out of the home and she has no ambitions or goals or even any friends. I feel so sorry for her state of being and her empty head. It was such a fluke accident that she went into acting because she hardly ever even left her flat! There was no color to the whole book it was just blah. I don't recommend it unless you have to read it for a stupid High School class and need an A by completing the book assigned.


kim & co. said...

Kind of random, although it was set in a similar time period--have you read "These is My Words"? I didn't think I was going to like it at first because it is about a girl/woman living in the Arizona Territory in the 1880's to 1900, and it was a rough time and too many people died and got hurt, but I ended up getting very caught up in her life and really enjoyed seeing a truly strong female character back then. Might be something you'd like.

kim & co. said...

Just wanted to clarify--I didn't think I'd like it because of all the death and pain--it was making me sad. Not that I don't like people who lived in that time period. I actually have always loved those stories of the people roughing it on the frontier.

The Bec-ster said...

Thanks for the suggestions I will add it to my TO Read List.

Tonight we had the book group for this book and I'm glad I wasn't the only one that didn't like it. In fact everyone thought it was aweful. We guessed that the book was read in High School for the Historical perspective.