Book Review: Alice Adams by Booth Tarkington

alice adams 002About a year ago I reviewed “The Magnificent Ambersons” by
this same author, Booth Tarkington.  It won a Pulitzer Prize in
1919.  (Just type magnificent ambersons in my search box up
there on the right.)

This book, Alice Adams, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1921.  Not bad
for an author to win two!  Only William Faulkner and John Updike
have won more than one . . .You know Booth Tarkington–he wrote
the Penrod series, and Seventeen—-all about young people
growing up in the time period after World War I.

This is another easy-going novel about young people and young love
and perfect for lazy summertime reading.

Alice Adams is twenty-two years old, vain, and looking for a husband.
Her mother is looking for a husband for Alice even harder.  Trouble is,
mother thinks, that they just don’t have the class, the money, to really
compete against the other girls in town.

Alice’s father is recovering from a stroke.  Mrs. Adams is adamant
that he shouldn’t return to his job at Lamb and Company, but instead
should quit and start his own glue factory.

A lot of the book is dated and sometimes Alice is just “too” cute.  But
a part I liked, that holds as true this very day as it did in 1921, is
when Alice is at a dance with no partner.  The art of appearing to
be just casually waiting for a beau to return “any minute” is one
that could be helpful to anyone!

Alice has had two dances, but they were with a partner she
dislikes, and only consents to to appear “taken”,
and when his mother calls him away (!) she is left alone with
no one to talk to or sit with.  Thus, the dramatics of
“waiting” for her partner to return.  That part’s great.

The family consists of Mr. and Mrs. Adams, Alice, and older
brother, Walter, who has questionable activities and friends.

Mr. Adams does quit his job, sells his bonds, mortgages the house,and
starts his glue factory.  Alice, in the meantime, has been seeing Arthur
Russell, who originally was a beau of her friend, Mildred.

How do you suppose things turn out?  It’s a short pleasant read and you
can then check it off your summer reading list!

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