Mildred Pierce divorces her out of work, philandering husband and struggles to find a way to support herself and her two daughters. Too bad she attracts lazy scoundrels like a magnet and one of her daughters is a hellion...
Mildred Pierce is the tale of the titular character's obsessive devotion to her wicked nigh-sociopathic daughter and her wrong choices in men. Cain guides Mildred and her fabulous gams from one setback to the next, either from Veda or one of her douchebag suitors.
The writing is good though I didn't think it was as powerful as that of Double Indemnity or Postman. Still, it had its moments. My favorite quote was “The hand that holds the money cracks the whip.”
It wasn't the easiest book to read, however. I couldn't get behind any of the characters and I really wanted someone to start plotting to bump someone off. Mildred pretty much deserved all the crap that came her way, especially since she was glad Veda wasn't the child of hers that died. A lot of double crosses would have been great, especially with Veda and Monty engaging in adult situations and strong sexual content unbeknownst to Mildred.
Until Mildred Pierce, I thought James M. Cain was a one trick pony. Granted, he did that one trick very well in The Postman Always Rings Twice and Double Indemnity. Mildred Pierce shows that Cain had some serious writing chops even when not writing about married women and their lovers bump off their husbands. Three stars.Also posted at Shelf Inflicted