Alice Adams
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Alice Adams (Vintage Movie Classics)

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  1,731 ratings  ·  147 reviews
Alice Adams, the daughter of middle-class parents, wants desperately to belong with the people of "high society" who live in her town. Ultimately, her ambitions are tempered by the realities of her situation, which she learns to accept with grace and style. Alice's resiliency of spirit makes her one of Booth Tarkington's most compelling characters. A fascinating story that...more
Paperback, 268 pages
Published July 1st 2008 by Boomer Books (first published 1921)
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Oct 08, 2013 Maureen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who have read pride & prejudice and need to give their head a shake
Shelves: 2013, novels
cross-posted at http://themocentricuniverse.blogspot....

i wished after reading alice adams that my younger self had discovered it, ideally the version of me who was besotted with pride & prejudice and identified with the impudent, winsome miss elizabeth bennet. i doubt the young maureen would have identified with alice adams at first but it's hard not to see the parallels between elizabeth and alice: both have deep affection for their fathers, and somewhat difficult relationships with their...more
Jennifer Ochoa
Really enjoyed this 1921 Pulitzer Prize winning novel about the dangers of social-climbing and ambition without merit. The pacing of this book was excellent. I finished it rather quickly because I just couldn't put it down.

The character of Alice Adams could have been one-dimensional--and honestly I made the mistake of judging her as just that in the first few pages--but Tarkington slowly unfurls her complex, and sometimes sympathetic, personality in such a way that I found myself actually likin...more
A little dated and racially insensitive, but an interesting bit of social history. The industrial boom that followed WWI brought economic growth but left some behind, especially those whose skills did not match the needs of the growth industries. In an odd way, a feminist book, in that our heroine's sad fate may be redeeemed through economic independence -- freeing her from the tyrrany of courtship rituals where economic status undermines her. There wasn't a single major character whom I found a...more
May 06, 2009 Dawn rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Sarah Parker, Jeanne O'Connor
I loved Alice. She is a heroine to be remembered. The ending of the book was so powerful. I admired Alice's courage and her willingness to face reality, take responsibility for her life and move forward. Booth Tarkington examined his characters choices and the ethical consequences. He exposes the shallowness of the well to do when they think their money, clothes, business success make them better than others less fortunate. He also reveals a desperation in those trying to climb the ladder to acc...more
Winner of the 1922 Pulitzer Prize, this satire of social manners and class climbing tells of the Adams family, a middle-class working couple with two late-teen or twenty-something children, Alice and Walter. Alice tries hard to ingratiate herself into the higher echelons of the town’s society, but is repeatedly rebuffed. Browbeaten by his wife, the elder Adams finally decides to go into business for himself, leaving his long-time employer to whom he is pathetically loyal. This sets into motion b...more
Joyce Lagow
Alice Adams is a morality tale about a socially ambitious young woman and her family in a Midwestern city. The family is middle-class, and sliding down in the economic scale. The father has worked in the same job for 20 years and is content. The mother, ambitious for her children, bitterly blames the father for not having made more of himself, for not thinking of his children� s social futures and therefore not having any gumption to do better. Her entire life is focused on her children, especia...more
This book was the Pulitzer Prize winner in 1922 and although the language is dated and definitely not politically correct the story itself stands the test of time. I could imagine Alice living in modern times and trying to make her life come out right exactly in the same ways Alice did then, although the customs of dating/relationships have were much more constrained than they are today.
Alice's family hasn't kept up successfully or financially with the better families in their town, families who...more
Lee Anne
If you're a fan of Sinclair Lewis or Willa Cather, I urge you to check out Booth Tarkington, if you haven't before. Are there fans of Sinclair Lewis or Willa Cather?

This small-town, Mid-Western family drama is so painful I winced through the climactic dinner party scene. It's as if all the characters, Alice, a young girl who, due to her poor financial status and desperate flirtation, finds herself in danger of becoming an old maid; Alice's father Virgil, sickly, old and past his prime at work a...more
I have conquered number four on the Pulitzer list!

Alice Adams is certainly dated, particularly surrounding the language and characterization of the peripheral African American characters in the book. The title character is a woman on the cusp of the upper class; her father has toiled away in a job with little prospects for significant advancement while his nagging wife reminds him constantly about the material comforts they owe Alice in order for her to land a husband. Sound familiar? It certain...more
There are racially insensitive parts of this book.

It's a fun read despite that, and actually reminds me quite a bit of Custom of the Country. Social climbers are shamed.

It's funny looking back, I'm realizing how often the author tells us what a likeable character Alice Adams is. And we don't often actually see how likeable she is.

The last several books I've read seem to have the same goal: to secure a husband. The book often includes or alludes to the misery that might accompany the husband you...more
Lauren Hu
Booth Tarkington's novel was a marvelous new take on women's liberties, especially for being published in the 1920s. Alice Adams makes for a remarkable heroine who, although imperfect, makes the brightest of any moment when she is given an opportunity. A character who has known the glow of attentions and high society makes the best of her opportunity to deal with a family stricken with ill fortune and ill judgement. The resolution was empowering- leaving Alice to step forward into her new future...more
I hated the movie with the burning passion of 999 burning suns. Kate or no Kate. Decided to see if the book was any better, and it really was not. Few things are more annoying to me than people who pretend to be something they are not, lying through their teeth, superficial, silly creatures. Mother was the worst offender: nagging, shallow, and... nagging. In the end it seemed that Alice got her act together, though I am not so sure about the mother. At any rate, this was a terribly irritating re...more
Johan Patrick Sy
The World full of Lies
A review on Booth Tarkington’s Alic Adams

Title: Alice Adams
Author: Booth Tarkington
Rank: 87th book in 2014

Plot movement: 2stars
Entertainment Factor: 1star
Characters: 1star
Writing Style: 3stars
Details: 3stars
Provoking: 3stars
Worldly Relevance: 4stars
Suspense: 1star
Conclusion: 1star
Emotion: 1star

My 3rd Pulitzer Prize Winner for Fiction (1922). Alice Adams is different for Tarkington’s previous novel which is The Magnificent Ambersons which is also a Pulitzer Win...more
A beautifully written account of a lower middle-class American family desperately trying to do better for their children. It is very recognizable, funny, sad and ever so true. Despite the fact that it was first published in 1921, it is still very readable, fresh and entertaining. Tarkington had a very sharp eye for social behaviour. He is a master in describing how people want to be perceived by others ... and utterly fail in their attempts.
The tragic realism of this story is amazing. Set at close of the 1910s, this is the story of a family who never quite made it into wealth, but who are close enough to know exactly what they're missing. This is no cautionary tale, but questions of ethics and family roles are raised.

Alice, daughter of Virgil and Mrs. Adams, is just beyond her prime marrying-off years with no prospects in sight. She keeps an optimistic outlook, however, and tries to maintain a carefree image despite her tight finan...more
Howard McEwen
In the novel the title character is described by the matriarch of a prominent family as pushy.

"Mrs. Palmer settled the whole case of Alice carelessly. 'A pushing sort of girl,' she said. 'A very pushing little person.'

That pushing is the fatal flaw of the Adams family. But it doesn’t reside in Alice’s heart but her mothers. She’s a mother that believes she deserves more and is pushing her family members to get it – whatever that is – for her.

While titled after the daughter I felt as if the novel...more
Alice Adams is one of the Pulitzer Prize winning novels of Booth Tarkington. Although, he is well-known on his children’s books, the Penrod series, his novels that focus on the life of Midwestern families are well-written through his observant eyes and skilful writing.

Alice Adams centres on the Adams family consisting of Mr. Virgil and Mrs. Adams, Alice, their lovely elder daughter and Walter, their eccentric younger son. The book starts on Mr. Adams being sick and Alice preparing for a dance ho...more
Alice Adams (Pulitzer 1922) takes place in the twenties just after WWI and is the story of a young woman who is already an old maid at the age of 22. She lives in a time of debutant balls, teas and the search for a husband with money. Her father has worked at the same job for 20 years who starts out the book laid up in bed. Her mother spends most of the book trying to get her father to quit his deadbeat life and start his own company with an idea that he had 10 years before. Her brother, Walt, i...more
Alice Adams is a twenty two year old woman from a middle class family in the American midwest at the turn of the 20th cnetury.

She wants to shine in society but her family doesn't have the financial means to provide her with the necessary props to compete with the woman she wants to impress. For the dance she is attending, she doesn't have a date so coerces her brother to take her, she doesn't have a dress that's in the latest fashion so her mother sews some lace on an old dress in attempt to mod...more
Alice Adams is a girl growing up in an industrial midwestern town in the early 1920's. Her family has slipped into poverty as her father remains in a stagnant career, yet Alice is desperate to keep hold of a higher class of living. Past her youthful bloom (at the ripe old age of 22!) and cast off by her friends, she garners the attention of one Mr. Arthur Russell, and weaves a web of deceit to hold him. In the meantime, her father gives in to his wife's pressures, and for the sake of his love an...more
This 1921 Pulitzer-Price winning novel is considered Booth Tarkington's best work. As in his book "Seventeen" (funnier though less poignant; spears the romantically-intent teenaged boy instead of girl), he manages to reveal the mind of a white, Midwestern, middle-class teenager in a way that is incredible. Here he exposes Alice's inner thoughts and narcissism, her contradictions and self-deceptions, the way she can both love and manipulate those around her. Even though his characters lived 100 y...more
My colleague, Stephanie Bower, who is writing (or wrote?) a book on the rise of Louisville in the late 1800s and early 1900s gave me this book. She told me she could not read it because she knew it wouldn't end well. Boy - you can tell almost immediately things will not turn out well for Alice.

Alice has upper class pretentions but lives in a lower middle class family. Her main goal is to marry well, and that is never a good thing in an early 1900s book. It's so darn annoying to see her blunder...more
Alice Adams is a wonderful coming of age story by Booth Tarkington, twice the winner of the Pulitzer Prize. The story is delightful! It is a look at maintaining "appearances," trying to be what you are not, and learning the intrinsic value of people outside of outward appearances and expectations. In the end, Alice and others learn the value of being true to who you are and to those whom you love; the value of family and true friendship.

I know that some reading the novel will be upset by insensi...more
In the same fashion of the other book I read by Takington, "The Magnificent Ambersons," this book started very slow. Unfortunately it didn't pick up. Maybe I just don't get it, and maybe I'm missing something completely with this book but I just didn't like it.

I found the characters to be extremely unlikable, their passions were a bore, the father had no backbone and the entire book crept along so slow I thought it would never end. And maybe that's the point of this book. Maybe you're not suppos...more
I enjoyed this, although I'm not sure its Pulitzer status holds up. The Katherine Hepburn film is very true to the book, which I always like, and I'm a fan of optimistic endings. I do think, though, that this would have more lasting weight, along the lines of a Theodore Dreiser novel, if BT had allowed the family to continue to descend into ruin. Or maybe that would be too much melodrama. I don't know! Of its time, on the whole enjoyably so.
Elizabeth (Alaska)
Am I feeling star-generous? I couldn't put this book down! To me, this 90-year old Pulitzer remains relevant. Tarkington provides such excellent characterizations and a wonderful picture of American life.

Mrs. Adams thought her children "deserved" to have all the advantages of the more wealthy citizens. I wanted to sit down and ask her what was wrong with the good, solid middle-class existence her husband was able to provide. Alice was so afraid to be herself, to be thought inadequate. Mr. Adams...more
Bettina Cohen
An enjoyable read, though written in an age when racial slurs were accepted, and these appear throughout. This portrayal of middle-America, middle-class society's treatment of an attractive young woman who lacks wealth and family connections reminded me a little of novels by Edith Wharton, particularly The Custom of the Country and The House of Mirth, though it has a happier ending than the latter. As far as Pulitzer Prize winners go, this is not the most impressive I've read. Still, it provides...more
I gave this one two stars not because it wasn't well written, but because I just didn't like it. I couldn't relate to the main character, Alice, at all. Alice is, essentially, a young woman from the poorer section of town who wants to be accepted by the wealthy part of town. A young man from the wealthy set is interested in her, so she creates this web of lies to make herself seem to be in a better situation than she really is. While I understand that people like Alice really do exist, I just co...more
Christine Sinclair
I like the movie better than the book, which is really rare. It's a good story, but the writing is dated (including many racist terms). In addition, the dialogue felt very stilted and forced. I'm glad I read it, but I'd rather watch Katharine Hepburn and Fred MacMurray, much more entertaining.
I totally got caught up in this old-fashioned (well it *was* originally published in 1921) morality tale about a lower middle class 22 year old girl trying to better her lot by climbing the social ladder, but finding the odds stacked against her. I find these sort of books fascinating and oddly soothing in their slow, careful character-based storytelling. The modern-day reader will have to put up with a little icky race stuff, which should be taken simply in the context of the times in which it...more
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Booth Tarkington was an American novelist and dramatist best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning novels The Magnificent Ambersons and Alice Adams.
More about Booth Tarkington...
The Magnificent Ambersons (The Growth Trilogy, #2) Penrod Seventeen Penrod and Sam The Turmoil (The Growth Trilogy, #1)

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“As with husbands and wives, so with many fathers and daughters, and so with some sons and mothers: the man will himself be cross in public and think nothing of it, nor will he greatly mind a little crossness on the part of the woman; but let her show agitation before any spectator, he is instantly reduced to a coward's slavery. Women understand that ancient weakness, of course; for it is one of their most important means of defense, but can be used ignobly.” 2 likes
“Men were just like sheep, and nothing was easier than for women to set up as shepherds and pen them up in a field.” 0 likes
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