Elizabeth's Reviews > The Rise of Silas Lapham

The Rise of Silas Lapham by William Dean Howells
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's review
Jun 11, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2011

Various elements of this novel made me want to compare it with a variety of other much-loved authors (or mine and others). The titular character contains elements of Fitzgerald's Gatsby, the trenchant social critique recalls Wharton, the plot (particularly the marriage plot) could have been taken right out of the pages of Jane Austen. And, despite these (worthy) comparisons, this novel is also all its own: its a realistic yet also somewhat satirical look at the rise of America's nouveau riche at a time when America itself was still in its building stages. The novel reflects on all of the complications such social striving engendered, and does so in a way that manages to be both critical and also sympathetic to those on both sides of the aisle (i.e., the social strivers and the born-wealthy). The clash between these two hits its crescendo in the novel's brilliant middle-section, particularly at a dinner party where the Laphams are guests of the Boston Brahmin Coreys. This scene alone makes the entire book worth reading, though I wish it ended on as high a note as this climactic moment.
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message 1: by Anneliese (new)

Anneliese I would like to borrow this from you when I visit.

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