Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Book Review: Dodsworth by Sinclair Lewis

Sinclair Lewis' novel Dodsworth, published in 1929, tells the story of a middle-aged (in other words, 40-ish) American couple who sell off their thriving automobile business and voyage to Europe. Although their marriage seems stable at the outset, cracks soon appear. Sam Dodsworth regards the trip as no more than an extended vacation, and wants to do the usual sightseeing things before heading back home to their friends and their grown children. His wife Fran, however, considers herself spiritually European, and wants to stay permanently -- especially when she finds out that their newly married daughter is about to make them grandparents.

Fran embarks on a series of affairs, while patient Sam rejects divorce and befriends Edith Cortright, an expatriate American who lives quietly in Italy, not in the pursuit of glamour but because "it's cheap." The novel is a fine glimpse of the wealthy, tourists' Europe of the early 20th century. Even more, it is a study of a loving but troubled marriage, and of the American woman who feels that not being born a continental sophisticate has ruined her life.

If you enjoy the book, you might also like the splendid 1938 movie adaptation of it. It's also called Dodsworth, and it stars three greats of American film: Walter Huston, Ruth Benedict, and Mary Astor.

If you’re interested in either the book or the film, ask at the Adult Services Desk and we’ll borrow them from another library for you.

Have you read the book or seen the film? Post a comment here!

Category: Book Review

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