Mildred Pierce had gorgeous legs, a way with a skillet, and a bone-deep core of toughness and determination. She used those attributes to survive a divorce in 1940s America with two children and to claw her way out of poverty, becoming a successful businesswoman. But Mildred also had two weaknesses: a yen for shiftless men and an unreasoning devotion to her monstrous daughter.
Out of these elements, Cain created a novel (later made into a film noir classic) of acute social observation and devastating emotional violence - and a heroine whose ambitions and sufferings are never less than recognizable.
"[James M. Cain is] the poet of the hard-boiled school of the American novel." (Washington Post) "A novel that, once begun, will almost surely be read to the end....it reflects no codes, no restrictions, and none but the primordial necessities. It is a bath in sensation." (New York Times Book Review)
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