The Postman Always Rings Twice ; Double Indemnity ; Mildred Pierce ; and Selected Stories

by James M. Cain

Hardcover, 2003





New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2003.


Contains three novels and five short stories by American author James M. Cain, including "The Postman Always Rings Twice" about a drifter who embarks on a course of destruction when he falls for the wife of Nick, the genial owner of a roadside cafe.

User reviews

LibraryThing member lucymaesmom
Loved the movies, wanted to try the book. The language, at times, was so out of date that I didn't get it. But on the whole I enjoyed the trilogy. I thought I'd like "Postman" best, but ended up really, really enjoying "Mildred Pierce" the best. I couldn't separate my thoughts from Joan Crawford's sholder pads, but that didn't stop me from enjoying the story.… (more)
LibraryThing member santhony
I purchased this collection of writings by James Cain by virtue of its inclusion in Everyman’s Library list of 100 essential books. Included are The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity, Mildred Pierce and several short stories. The Postman Always Rings Twice and Double Indemnity are actually novella length (100 pages), while Mildred Pierce is roughly 300 pages long.

I saw the movie version of The Postman Always Rings Twice, starring Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange many years ago, but was not familiar with the details of the story. It is an entertaining tale of murder for love and profit and the subsequent ramifications, both legal and emotional. It is well written and, at 100 pages, moves right along. Solid four star work.

Similarly, Double Indemnity also has as its subject murder, this time more related to insurance fraud, though there is certainly a romantic angle. The twists and turns in this story are more convoluted and intriguing. Again, at 100 pages there is no wasted prose and the action moves along quickly. This is an excellent novella. Five stars.

Mildred Pierce is more of a standard length novel, weighing in at about 300 pages. Following up on the much more tightly written novellas, it seemed to drag in places, but was a fine effort nonetheless. The title character is a Depression era housewife, whose husband has lost his job, his ability to support his family and apparently his interest in his wife. Mildred is left to raise her two young girls and does so impressively, by founding a successful chain of diners featuring her custom made pies. The real focus of the story is on Mildred’s relationship with her oldest daughter and the sacrifices and tribulations she faces in her never ending efforts to meet her daughter’s ever increasing expectations. Four stars.

There follows three or four short stories, a couple of which are rather good, though not exceptional. All in all, a good sampling on writing from one of the most renowned writers of the period.
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