James M. Cain’s MILDRED PIERCE
My preconceived idea of a James M. Cain novel is of hardboiled crime and classic American noir, which MILDRED PIERCE is definitely not (despite the UK publisher including it in the “Crime Masterworks” series and Wikipedia describing it as “hardboiled”). It is what I think of as an American classic: sparse, precise writing with so much packed into its 300 pages. At times I was reminded of Richard Yates as Cain also brutally examines the realities of the American Dream and, apart from REVOLUTIONARY ROAD, is superior to Yates in many ways.
The HBO series is amazing and is one of those rare adaptations that capture the novel perfectly. But as always the book is even more impressive. This is a true classic whose story still resonates today. I wish this were books written today that pack the same punch as Cain does with MILDRED PIERCE.