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Alice Adams (Vintage Movie Classics)

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  2,493 ratings  ·  176 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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The Great Gatsby by F. Scott FitzgeraldWinnie-the-Pooh by A.A. MilneAll Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria RemarqueThe Sun Also Rises by Ernest HemingwayThe Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
Best Books of the Decade: 1920's
121st out of 323 books — 614 voters
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeMiddlesex by Jeffrey EugenidesThe Road by Cormac McCarthyThe Color Purple by Alice WalkerThe Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
Pulitzer Winners: Fiction & Novels
64th out of 89 books — 907 voters

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Community Reviews

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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
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
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
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
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, especial ...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
When I started listening to this book, my mother was alive and by the time I finished the book my mother had died. Any review seems unfair. Especially one that says: I loved the way this book started and progressed and I was very disappointed by the ending which seemed to leave too many story arcs unfinished. I was left feeling sad and empty and cheated. I wanted more story and I wanted a more fully fleshed out ending. At the same time, I understand what Tarkington was trying to achieve and what ...more
Some reviewers have removed stars on "Alice Adams" because of racist remarks and depiction of African Americans. While I agree that those portions were difficult to read and were, frankly, cringe-inducing, they were a pretty accurate portrait of how many white Americans viewed some of their neighbors in the 1920s.

For me, the book didn't seem Pulitzer- or 5-star-worthy because the moral was driven home too forcefully. It's hard to believe that anyone acted as hysterical as Mrs. Adams, as false a
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
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
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
This was a tale of a family who wasn't very well off but they were trying to change their prospects and it all backfired in their faces. Eventually they learned to pull together to make life work. Alice grew up in a short period of time and stopped playing games. Good short book.
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
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
Lauren Huibregtse
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
As far as the story and the quality of writing goes, the book would probably be a three or a four. It is the horribly racist depiction of blacks that take this book down to one or two stars. I know, 'product of its time,' yada yada yada, but some of the paragraphs and the particular portrayal of a temp maid, Gertrude, left an extremely bitter taste in my mouth that I could not get rid of, no matter how much hand waving could be applied. 'Product of its time' may explain past racist portrayals, b ...more
Years ago I went through a Booth Tarkington phase and read The Magnificent Ambersons and Alice Adams, both of which won Pulitzer Prizes, and a couple of the Penrod books as well. I recently watched the 1930's version of Alice Adams with Kathryn Hepburn and didn't remember the ending being the same. So I downloaded the audio book from the library.

Don't listen to the audio! Tarkington is a Midwestern writer (Indianapolis) and the story takes place in a Midwestern town and yet the reader gave the c
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
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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
Uthpala Dassanayake
The quest of finding a husband for young ladies in fallen middle-class families is not an uncommon theme for early novels. However, in Alice Adams, the author has developed the characters with more depth. Yet in present day standards, I find it a pretty ordinary novel. But probably a century ago, it must have been taken a new path.
Alice, a good daughter and a spirited girl trying for achievements beyond her economy is the best girl in the town for the parents, but too pushy a girl for others. I
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.
Carrain De silva
This 1922 Pulitzer winner is a break from YA's I have read this month and I find it refreshing lol!
Virgil Adams is a typical dad who worked loyally until he gets old and is sometimes unaware of his family's other matters such as flowers or decorations in the house, though he loves his children very much especially Alice and would give up great things for her.
Now I find Mrs. Adams very irritating at times, though I do understand she is just after the welfare of her kids but nagging her husband wh
This is a Pulitzer prize winner from the 20's. I had to stop at some point and look that up since so much of it was NOT very PC. Alice and her mother wish they were high society and spend much of the book bullying Mr. Adams into leaving his secure position and starting his own company with his boss's idea. Alice spends a good deal of the book trying to woo eligible bachelors into thinking she's who she wishes she were, rather than who she is. By the end of the book, this house of cards tumbles a ...more
Colin Cummings
Another pulitzer prize winning novel by Tarkington that carries themes of economic class and the deterioration of the aristocratic set in early 20th century America. I enjoyed the story and the loose sense of allegiance that any character seems to have with any other - Alice adores her father but doesn't sense his frailty; Alice's mother is completely self-centered and lavishes the same shallow emotion on Alice; Alice's brother is a clod who doesn't care about anyone but himself; and Alice is as ...more
Booth Tarkington ha vinto ben due Pulitzer per la narrativa e molti dei suoi libri, leggo, sono diventati film. Chissà perché solo ora si è tradotto questo bel racconto, premio Pulitzer 1922, brillante e ironico in cui trapela l'ottimismo della piccola borghesia nell'inseguire il famoso sogno americano. Non ha la causticità amara di Sinclair Lewis in Babbit, perché l'intento, forse, è solo quello di divertire, ma lo ricorda. Una lettura piacevole, per nulla datata, che si presta a essere rappres ...more
Mark Oppenlander
Americans like to pretend that we are egalitarian - that we don't care about class systems and social power structures. We want to act like we've evolved above all of that and that these things are an Old World affectation that we've outgrown. But books like this 1922 Pulitzer Prize winner show us how much we do care (or have cared) about social standing, essentially putting the lie to all of our posturing.

Alice Adams is a young woman living in the Midwest during the period between the wars. Ind
I went out to read this book after enjoying the immense irony of the Katherine Hepburn film.
While it certainly took forever to get into, ultimately I enjoyed the book. A moral tale about pretending to be what were not and the foolishness of looking beyond our means and station, 'Alice' succeeds by the end of peeling back what makes us do such things. My only negatives is that Talkington's characters go into lengthy monologues, and Talkington's perception of blacks are horrendously ugly even with
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
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
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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.
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Other Books in the Series

Vintage Movie Classics (8 books)
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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
“Is this life?'Alice wondered, not doubting that the question was original and all her own. 'Is it life to spend your time imagining things that aren't so, and never will be? Beautiful things happen to other people; why should I be the only one they never can happen to?” 1 likes
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