Carol Milford, an enlightened, beautiful, young woman gets married. She thinks she is marrying Dr. Kennicott, she doesn't know that she is also marrying his town, Gopher Prairie. She tries to love the town and tries hard. She wants to improve things, change, reform. She is faced with stone walls. And ugly ones at that. They resent her, they don't take her seriously, they call her crazy, flippant, foolish, snobbish, arrogant, silly, light woman, bad woman and a lot of other things. She alternates between wanting to give up and to continue. At times she is lazy, diligent, hopeless, hopeful, resigned, rebellious and often lonely. I read Carol's story as if I was living it. Half way through the book, I was giving her advice: "Run for your life!" or "Hang in there!". It is a very realistic story. Carol is not without faults and she has the courage to see and admit her faults. And her townspeople are not all (or always) villains either. But there is a stubborn ignorance in the air of the town, and someone has to expose it. Sinclair Lewis is a brilliant narrator. He tells the story of Gopher Prairie with wit, charm and sarcastic humour. I believe that he was the first male feminist of America.
I have heard people complain about the length of this book. "It is too long" they say, "too boring, repetitious". How can it be long and boring when every sentence is so deliciously bitter, so delightfully mocking? I loved this book. I think it uses only as many words as necessary.
Have you ever been to a party where you make a new acquaintance who, upon mention of a book, or books in general, shamelessly declares that s/he doesn't read fiction? If yes, you will understand how Carol feels.
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