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Extended Audio Sample Mildred Pierce, by James M. Cain Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (3,036 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: James M. Cain Narrator: Christine Williams Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Mildred Pierce had gorgeous legs, a way with a skillet, and a bone-deep core of toughness. She used those attributes to survive a divorce and poverty and to claw her way out of the lower middle class. But Mildred also had two weaknesses: a yen for shiftless men and an unreasoning devotion to a monstrous daughter.

Out of these elements, Cain creates a novel of acute social observation and devastating emotional violence, with a heroine whose ambitions and sufferings are never less than recognizable.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “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

  • “This novel, by the author of The Postman Always Rings Twice, is compounded of shrewdness, artifice, a brittle vivacity and a commanding of psychological penetration. It sports a toughness of sentiment that is perhaps not quite so modish as it was, and yet at the same time it performs feats of surgical analysis that are undeniably impressive…It is all cleverly done, Mr.Cain’s air of hard detachment steadily gaining in power in the somewhat gruesome domestic scenes of the closing pages.”

    Times Literary Supplement

  • “The drugstore-library sensationalism that still overhangs Cain’s work does not stop him from being one of the most readable storytellers in the U.S.” 


  • “[Mildred Pierce] take[s] on new life under Williams’ direction…[the story] flourishes under her steady, patient, ever-so-slightly melancholic gaze. Williams’ reading…amplifies our sense of Cain’s heroine as an abandoned woman who finds her own way, on her own terms.”

    Publishers Weekly

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Rosemary | 2/18/2014

    " Great book that deals with relationships. I kept wanting to read to see what was going to happen. The characters were not very nice but I was still interested in what was going to happen to them. I think this book may have had more of am impact if it was read closer to the time period of which it was written. It takes place during the depression. Quite interesting to see what some people will do to survive and become more prosperous during difficult times. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Catherine | 2/6/2014

    " This is one of those books that will always be better than any movie video version, though the HBO series did make a serious effort to track the book as written, and though I do have a lasting soft spot for the Joan Crawford film version, which barely tracks the book as written. The reason no film can compete is that Mildred herself, like all the characters as written, is only human, not a film-friendly super mom whose daughter betrays her. This does not detract a whit from the poignancy and appeal of the book. The underlying story is fascinating,a great modern riff on the classic wheel story strcture (person loses all, gains all, and loses all again) and the characters ring true. And Cain's sparing prose and perfectly pitched dialogue takes us right back to Depression era California. Reading this book is like living in a film noir. Great stuff. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Regina | 2/3/2014

    " Wow! It was hard to put this one down. Never a dull moment. The life of a woman set during The Great Depression focuses on her ambition and determination, her bad choices of men, her tragic personal losses and her obsessive devotion to her psycho daughter. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Bridgid | 1/27/2014

    " I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Since it is a hardboiled novel, I was expecting a murder mystery and was surprised to find it more like a melodrama. I found the depiction of Depression era Glendale looking uphill to tony Pasadena perfectly represents Mildred's social and economic aspirations. I also enjoyed how driving and the real estate boom symbolize freedom and the idealized dream of Southern California. Behind this facade lurks Mildred's desperation and pride to provide for her family, class conflict and mass unemployment. Mildred's relationship to Veda is spectacularly dysfunctional and painful to watch unfold. I learned later that author James Cain's mother was an opera singer, so he deftly used classical pieces from Rachmaninoff and operas to illustrate Veda's passion. Her schemes and emotional abuse of Mildred would make fore the plot of a great tragic opera. Although some plot points seem implausible, many themes resonate during the current recession. From the grass widow in the opening scenes to getting stinko at the end, Mildred Pierce is a great example of the roman noir. "

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