Thursday, September 20, 2007

Alice Adams - Winner, Novel/Fiction, 1922

Alice Adams
By: Booth Tarkington
Doubleday, 1921

Alice Adams is Booth Tarkington's second Pulitzer Prize novel. (See previous Post here) I thoroughly enjoyed Tarkington's The Magnificent Ambersons, and so I looked forward to this read. While Alice Adams was interesting and another good commentary of the pretentiousness of society during the Victorian era, the story was too similar to The Magnificent Ambersons.

Where The Magnificent Ambersons focused on a wealthy family who slowly began to loose their wealth and status and did everything they could to keep up appearances of wealth, Alice Adams is about a family who could not quite keep up with all of the wealthy families in town and did everything to appear that they could.

It seems to me that there were many books written on this subject matter in the early 20th century. Feelings of disillusionment following World War I drove many authors to be highly critical of society prior to The Great War. What interests me is that this is something we are dealing with today. The skyrocketing numbers of foreclosures on homes is the result of people taking out loans that they can't afford so they can live somewhere that will make them look like they have more money than they do. People choose to spend their money on things like expensive cars or clothing instead of paying off ever-increasing credit card bills. Why? So they people who they probably don't like anyway will accept them. Aren't we humans interesting creatures?

Read this book or any of the others, but don't judge their society too harshly unless you are willing to look at our own society in the same way.

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