Main Street

Main Street

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Overview

This classic by Sinclair Lewis shattered the sentimental American myth of happy small-town life with its satire. Main Street attacks the conformity and dullness of early-twentieth-century midwestern village life in the story of Carol Milford, the city girl who marries the town doctor. Her efforts to bring culture to the prairie village are met by a wall of gossip, greed, and petty, small-minded bigotry. The first popular bestseller to attack conventional ideas about marriage, gender roles, and small town life, Main Street established Lewis as a major American novelist.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400119820
Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc.
Publication date: 12/27/2010
Edition description: Unabridged CD
Product dimensions: 6.60(w) x 5.50(h) x 1.70(d)

About the Author

Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951) won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1930, the first American novelist to be so honored. Born in Minnesota, he attended Yale University but left before graduation to work in Upton Sinclair's socialist colony at Helicon Hall in Englewood, New Jersey. Unable to make a living as a freelance writer, he returned to Yale and earned his degree. In 1914, he published his first novel, Our Mr. Wrenn: The Romantic Adventures of a Gentle Man. But it was not until his sixth novel, Main Street, that he won recognition as an important American novelist. His other major works include Babbitt, Arrowsmith, Elmer Gantry, Dodsworth, and It Can't Happen Here, which he also wrote as a play. Lewis was a prolific writer, publishing dozens of books and innumerable articles throughout his career. Lloyd James has been narrating since 1996, has recorded over six hundred books in almost every genre, has earned six AudioFile Earphones Awards, and is a two-time nominee for the prestigious Audie Award. His bestselling and most critically acclaimed performances include Elvis in the Morning by William F. Buckley, Jr., Ben Hur by Lew Wallace, Searching for Bobby Fischer by Fred Waitskin, and Mystic Warrior by Tracy and Laura Hickman. Lloyd's background as a performer includes extensive work in classical theater and folk music. He lives in Maryland with his wife and children.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


ON A hill by the Mississippi where Chippewas camped two generations ago, a girl stood in relief against the cornflower blue of Northern sky. She saw no Indians now; she saw flour-mills and the blinking windows of skyscrapers in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Nor was she thinking of squaws and portages, and the Yankee fur-traders whose shadows were all about her. She was meditating upon walnut fudge, the plays of Brieux, the reasons why heels run over, and the fact that the chemistry instructor had stared at the new coiffure which concealed her ears.

A breeze which had crossed a thousand miles of wheatlands bellied her taffeta skirt in a line so graceful, so full of animation and moving beauty, that the heart of a chance watcher on the lower road tightened to wistfulness over her quality of suspended freedom. She lifted her arms, she leaned back against the wind, her skirt dipped and flared, a lock blew wild. A girl on a hilltop; credulous, plastic, young; drinking the air as she longed to drink life. The eternal aching comedy of expectant youth.

It is Carol Milford, fleeing for an hour from Blodgett College.

The days of pioneering, of lassies in sunbonnets, and bears killed with axes in piney clearings, are deader now than Camelot; and a rebellious girl is the spirit of that bewildered empire called the American Middlewest.

Chapter Two


Blodgett College is on the edge of Minneapolis. It is a bulwark of sound religion. It is still combating the recent heresies of Voltaire, Darwin, and Robert Ingersoll. Pious families in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, the Dakotas send their children thither, and Blodgett protects them from the wickedness of the universities. But it secretes friendly girls, young men who sing, and one lady instructress who really likes Milton and Carlyle. So the four years which Carol spent at Blodgett were not altogether wasted. The smallness of the school, the fewness of rivals, permitted her to experiment with her perilous versatility. She played tennis, gave chafing-dish parties, took a graduate seminar in the drama, went “twosing,” and joined half a dozen societies for the practise of the arts or the tense stalking of a thing called General Culture.

In her class there were two or three prettier girls but none more eager. She was noticeable equally in the classroom grind and at dances, though out of the three hundred students of Blodgett, scores recited more accurately and dozens Bostoned more smoothly. Every cell of her body was alive—thin wrists, quince-blossom skin, ingénue eyes, black hair.

The other girls in her dormitory marveled at the slightness of her body when they saw her in sheer negligée, or darting out wet from a shower-bath. She seemed then but half as large as they had supposed; a fragile child who must be cloaked with understanding kindness. “Psychic,” the girls whispered, and “spiritual.” Yet so radioactive were her nerves, so adventurous her trust in rather vaguely conceived sweetness and light, that she was more energetic than any of the hulking young women who, with calves bulging in heavy-ribbed woolen stockings beneath decorous blue serge bloomers, thuddingly galloped across the floor of the “gym” in practice for the Blodgett Ladies’ Basket-Ball Team.

Even when she was tired her dark eyes were observant. She did not yet know the immense ability of the world to be casually cruel and proudly dull, but if she should ever learn those dismaying powers, her eyes would never become sullen or heavy or rheumily amorous.

For all her enthusiasms, for all the fondness and the “crushes” which she inspired, Carol’s acquaintances were shy of her. When she was most ardently singing hymns or planning deviltry she yet seemed gently aloof and critical. She was credulous, perhaps; a born hero-worshipper; yet she did question and examine unceasingly. Whatever she might become she would never be static.
Her versatility ensnared her. By turns she hoped to discover that she had an unusual voice, a talent for the piano, the ability to act, to write, to manage organizations. Always she was disappointed, but always she effervesced anew—over the Student Volunteers, who intended to become missionaries, over painting scenery for the dramatic club, over soliciting advertisements for the college magazine.

She was on the peak that Sunday afternoon when she played in chapel. Out of the dusk her violin took up the organ theme, and the candle-light revealed her in a straight golden frock, her arm arched to the bow, her lips serious. Every man fell in love then with religion and Carol.

Throughout Senior year she anxiously related all her experiments and partial successes to a career. Daily, on the library steps or in the hall of the Main Building, the co-eds talked of “What shall we do when we finish college?” Even the girls who knew that they were going to be married pretended to be considering important business positions; even they who knew that they would have to work hinted about fabulous suitors. As for Carol, she was an orphan; her only near relative was a vanilla-flavored sister married to an optician in St. Paul. She had used most of the money from her father’s estate. She was not in love—that is, not often, nor ever long at a time. She would earn her living.

But how she was to earn it, how she was to conquer the world—almost entirely for the world’s own good—she did not see. Most of the girls who were not betrothed meant to be teachers. Of these there were two sorts: careless young women who admitted that they intended to leave the “beastly classroom and grubby children” the minute they had a chance to marry; and studious, sometimes bulbous-browed and pop-eyed maidens who at class prayer-meetings requested God to “guide their feet along the paths of greatest usefulness.” Neither sort tempted Carol. The former seemed insincere (a favorite word of hers at this era). The earnest virgins were, she fancied, as likely to do harm as to do good by their faith in the value of parsing Caesar.

At various times during Senior year Carol finally decided upon studying law, writing motion-pictures scenarios, professional nursing, and marrying an unidentified hero.

Then she found a hobby in sociology.

The sociology instructor was new. He was married, and therefore taboo, but he had come from Boston, he had lived among poets and socialists and Jews and millionaire uplifters at the University Settlement in New York, and he had a beautiful white strong neck. He led a giggling class through the prisons, the charity bureaus, the employment agencies of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Trailing at the end of the line Carol was indignant at the prodding curiosity of the others, their manner of staring at the poor as at a Zoo. She felt herself a great liberator. She put her hand to her mouth, her forefinger and thumb quite painfully pinching her lower lip, and frowned, and enjoyed being aloof.
A classmate named Stewart Snyder, a competent bulky young man in a gray flannel shirt, a rusty black bow tie, and the green-and-purple class cap, grumbled to her as they walked behind the others in the muck of the South St. Paul stockyards, “These college chumps make me tired. They’re so top-lofty. They ought to of worked on the farm, the way I have. These workmen put it all over them.”

“I just love common workmen,” glowed Carol.

“Only you don’t want to forget that common workmen don’t think they’re common!”

“You’re right! I apologize!” Carol’s brows lifted in the astonishment of emotion, in a glory of abasement. Her eyes mothered the world. Stewart Snyder peered at her. He rammed his large red fists into his pockets, he jerked them out, he resolutely got rid of them by clenching his hands behind him, and he stammered:

“I know. You get people. Most of these darn co-eds— Say, Carol, you could do a lot for people.”

“How?”

“Oh—oh well—you know—sympathy and everything—if you were—say you were a lawyer’s wife. You’d understand his clients. I’m going to be a lawyer. I admit I fall down in sympathy sometimes. I get so dog-gone impatient with people that can’t stand the gaff. You’d be good for a fellow that was too serious. Make him more—more—you know—sympathetic!”

His slightly pouting lips, his mastiff eyes, were begging her to beg him to go on. She fled from the steamroller of his sentiment. She cried, “Oh, see those poor sheep—millions and millions of them.” She darted on.

Stewart was not interesting. He hadn’t a shapely white neck, and he had never lived among celebrated reformers. She wanted, just now, to have a cell in a settlement-house, like a nun without the bother of a black robe, and be kind, and read Bernard Shaw, and enormously improve a horde of grateful poor.

The supplementary reading in sociology led her to a book on village-improvement—tree-planting, town pageants, girls’ clubs. It had pictures of greens and garden-walls in France, New England, Pennsylvania. She had picked it up carelessly, with a slight yawn which she patted down with her fingertips as delicately as a cat.

She dipped into the book, lounging on her window-seat, with her slim, lisle-stockinged legs crossed, and her knees up under her chin. She stroked a satin pillow while she read. About her was the clothy exuberance of a Blodgett College room: cretonne-covered window-seat, photographs of girls, a carbon print of the Coliseum, a chafing-dish, and a dozen pillows embroidered or beaded or pyrographed. Shockingly out of place was a miniature of the Dancing Bacchante. It was the only trace of Carol in the room. She had inherited the rest from generations of girl students.

It was as a part of all this commonplaceness that she regarded the treatise on village-improvement. But she suddenly stopped fidgeting. She strode into the book. She had fled half-way through it before the three o’clock bell called her to the class in English history.

She sighed, “That’s what I’ll do after college! I’ll get my hands on one of these prairie towns and make it beautiful. Be an inspiration. I suppose I’d better become a teacher then, but—I won’t be that kind of a teacher. I won’t drone. Why should they have all the garden suburbs on Long Island? Nobody has done anything with the ugly towns here in the Northwest except hold revivals and build libraries to contain the Elsie books. I’ll make ’em put in a village green, and darling cottages, and a quaint Main Street!”

Thus she triumphed through the class, which was a typical Blodgett contest between a dreary teacher and unwilling children of twenty, won by the teacher because his opponents had to answer his questions, while their treacherous queries he could counter by demanding, “Have you looked that up in the library? Well then, suppose you do!”

The history instructor was a retired minister. He was sarcastic today. He begged of sporting young Mr. Charley Holmberg, “Now Charles, would it interrupt your undoubtedly fascinating pursuit of that malevolent fly if I were to ask you to tell us that you do not know anything about King John?” He spent three delightful minutes in assuring himself of the fact that no one exactly remembered the date of Magna Charta.

Carol did not hear him. She was completing the roof of a half-timbered town hall. She had found one man in the prairie village who did not appreciate her picture of winding streets and arcades, but she had assembled the town council and dramatically defeated him.

Chapter Three



Though she was Minnesota-born Carol was not an intimate of the prairie villages. Her father, the smiling and shabby, the learned and teasingly kind, had come from Massachusetts, and through all her childhood he had been a judge in Mankato, which is not a prairie town, but in its garden-sheltered streets and aisles of elms is white and green New England reborn. Mankato lies between cliffs and the Minnesota River, hard by Traverse des Sioux, where the first settlers made treaties with the Indians, and the cattle-rustlers once came galloping before hell-for-leather posses.
As she climbed along the banks of the dark river Carol listened to its fables about the wide land of yellow waters and bleached buffalo bones to the West; the Southern levees and singing darkies and palm trees toward which it was forever mysteriously gliding; and she heard again the startled bells and thick puffing of high-stacked river steamers wrecked on sand-reefs sixty years ago. Along the decks she saw missionaries, gamblers in tall pot hats, and Dakota chiefs with scarlet blankets. . . . Far off whistles at night, round the river bend, plunking paddlers reechoed by the pines, and a glow on black sliding waters.

Carol’s family were self-sufficient in their inventive life, with Christmas a rite full of surprises and tenderness, and “dressing-up parties” spontaneous and joyously absurd. The beasts in the Milford hearth-mythology were not the obscene Night Animals who jump out of closets and eat little girls, but beneficent and bright-eyed creatures—the tam htab, who is woolly and blue and lives in the bathroom, and runs rapidly to warm small feet; the ferruginous oil stove, who purrs and knows stories; and the skitamarigg, who will play with children before breakfast if they spring out of bed and close the window at the very first line of the song about puellas which father sings while shaving.

Judge Milford’s pedagogical scheme was to let the children read whatever they pleased, and in his brown library Carol absorbed Balzac and Rabelais and Thoreau and Max Müller. He gravely taught them the letters on the backs of the encyclopedias, and when polite visitors asked about the mental progress of the “little ones,” they were horrified to hear the children earnestly repeating A-And, And-Aus, Aus-Bis, Bis-Cal, Cal-Cha.

Carol’s mother died when she was nine. Her father retired from the judiciary when she was eleven, and took the family to Minneapolis. There he died, two years after. Her sister, a busy proper advisory soul, older than herself, had become a stranger to her even when they lived in the same house.

From those early brown and silver days and from her independence of relatives Carol retained a willingness to be different from brisk efficient book-ignoring people; an instinct to observe and wonder at their bustle even when she was taking part in it. But, she felt approvingly, as she discovered her career of town-planning, she was now roused to being brisk and efficient herself.

Chapter Four



In a month Carol’s ambition had clouded. Her hesitancy about becoming a teacher had returned. She was not, she worried, strong enough to endure the routine, and she could not picture herself standing before grinning children and pretending to be wise and decisive. But the desire for the creation of a beautiful town remained. When she encountered an item about small-town women’s clubs or a photograph of a straggling Main Street, she was homesick for it, she felt robbed of her work.

It was the advice of the professor of English which led her to study professional library-work in a Chicago school. Her imagination carved and colored the new plan. She saw herself persuading children to read charming fairy tales, helping young men to find books on mechanics, being ever so courteous to old men who were hunting for newspapers—the light of the library, an authority on books, invited to dinners with poets and explorers, reading a paper to an association of distinguished scholars.

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "Main Street"
by .
Copyright © 2008 Sinclair Lewis.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Main Street 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 200 reviews.
Kristin_MN More than 1 year ago
Full of typos, errors, starting on the copyright page. A complete disaster of an edition.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A fasinating read. The frustrations of those ordinary people of 4 generations ago rings true today.Carol Kennicott is an educated young lady who faces the tedious agony of everyday life in Gopher Prairie Minn.She struggles with the driving desire to impact the world in a significant way or accepting her current safe but impossibly unrewarding life as wife and mother.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Main Street is a historical book from the early part of 1900 that definitely still applies to today. Reading about the significance it had on main stream society is amazing. There is a massive amount of detail and specificity in this book, almost to a fault. Lewis' descriptions of stores and locations as well as some meaningless conversations that take place seem a bit unnecessary at times. As far as character development and interaction, this book is top notch. I felt really connected to Carol, the main character, throughout her struggles toward improving the small town in which she resides. It was a bit disheartening to realize the parallels the author makes toward having aspirations to achieve great things, only to have to succumb to society norms and paths already in place. The many other personalities in the town are stereotypical people of all types that are still encountered today. I feel that many of the characters are in my sub-conscience as well when I am making decisions. Overall, the reason I gave this book three stars is because, even though I felt very connected with the main character and enjoyed the read, it was a very slow paced book that did not really have much of a plot besides the failed aspirations of the main character. It was a lot of "I want the world to be like this", "You can't tell me I can't have it this way", "You're right, it won't be this way". I recommend this book to someone who wants to read about historically significant fiction, but be forewarned that the story line will be a slow one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Greetings! Sinclair Lewis is one of the most under-rated American authors of the 20th century.He was a keen observer of middle America,life in the heartland.He was of Norwegin birth,and understood neighboring Sweden's military role in history.He is one of two dozen writers ,who knew the real story of the Lindbergh kidnapping.Harold Olson was the real Charles Lindbergh Jr.--I would highly recommend any of Lewis' great works, such as Babbit and Arrowsmith.Enjoy!from Mike McKenna.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great novel. One of my favorites. Sinclair Lewis is a fantastic writer. My version is typo free. I got the version published by Philtre Libre.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In 1905, 37 year old lawyer Paul Percy Harris created the Rotary Club of Chicago and launched the Service Club movement. His explicit goal was to transplant to huge, cut-throat, impersonal, low- standard Chicago the best features of friendly, uplifting, prospering, moral Wallingford, Vermont (population 1,000) where Harris had grown up. In 1920 appeared MAIN STREET, a novel by 35 year old Harry Sinclair Lewis. The novel's most obvious goal was to alert America to the negative, under-achieving, soul-shrinking aspects of small towns, particularly of Gopher Prairie, Minnesota (population 7,000). *** Trailing glorious memories of Judge Milford, her wise father and of her childhood home in Mankato, Minnesota, Carol Milford married a man a dozen years her senior, Will Kennicott, M.D., and moved with him to Gopher Prairie. Her father, who died when Carol was a teen, was a Massachusetts man, 'smiling and shabby, ... learned and teasingly kind.' And Mankato 'is not a prairie town, but in its garden-sheltered streets and aisles of elms is white and green New England reborn' (MAIN STREET, Ch. I) In college the orphaned Carol had discovered a dreamy bent for sociology and town-planning. These experiences she brought to her wedding and to her move from St. Paul where she worked as a librarian to Gopher Prairie, population 7,000. The mixture of past, present and future proved unstable in Carol Kennicott. *** Will Kennicott was not the intellectual that Carol Milford Kennicott's father had been. Will was a plodding, ordinary, hard-working country doctor. The most intellectually daring thing he ever did was to admire volatile, questing Carol and persuade her to marry him. Gopher Prairie was no transplanted Athens (as Carol remembered Mankato). And Gopher Prairie and its Main Street, representing thousands of similar American small towns, were unplanned, ugly, dirty, uncultured and a parasite on surrounding rural areas and farmers. Carol Kennicott set out to reform husband, town and 'denizens.' She played an idealistic, reforming Mary to her friend Vida Sherwin's more practical Martha. Carol sought to transform the village's architecture, school, and culture and create a sense of civic solidarity among its wealthier leaders. Her blitzkriegs all failed in the short run. But behind the scenes, with an eye to the long haul, over the years Vida Sherwin patiently won a new school. *** Meanwhile, the Kennicott marriage was neither a partnership in which husband and wife pooled resources behind the same profession nor a happy home built around a burgeoning nursery. Doctor Will retained an all male coterie of duck- hunting, tobacco-spitting friends, notably the merchant Sam Clark, 'dealer in hardware, sporting goods, cream separators and almost every kind of heavy junk you can think of' (Ch. III). The closest Carol was permitted to that circle was when Will bade her serve them food and drink on poker nights. *** Towards novel's end, yearning for freedom, a job, intellectual stimulus and romance, Carol took her three year old son off to Washington, DC in October 1918, a month before the end of World War One. There she experienced both the excitement of socializing with richly experienced, creative adults as well as the dullness of a Government office job. After a taste of strikers and the women's suffrage leaders, a more realistic Carol returned to husband, Gopher Prairie and Main Street. *** Sinclair Lewis went on to write BABBITT and other books mocking the transplanted devotion to small towns created by Rotary, Boosters, Kiwanis and other men's organizations. The duel goes on to this day, with idealized Mankato, Minnesota and Wallingord, Vermont rebuking a spirit-crushing Gopher Prairie, Minnesota, and between Paul Percy Harris and Harry SInclair Lewis. *** -OOO-
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
AHHHH! FROOOOOST! WHO JUST MESSAGED YOU THAT ADORABLE POEM? *tackles* I'm so happy for you, love! I wish you two the best! ;D You best not forget about me, though, Frosty! IMMA WATCHIN' YEW! xD -Midnight
Guest More than 1 year ago
Sinclair Lewis' first novel is an eyeopener to life in a small mid-Western town during the first two decades of the 20th century. Reading this book 82 years after it was first published made me realize how lucky I am to have been born during the last half of the 20th century and have grown up in and continue to live in urban areas (and enjoy the anonymity they offer). I sympathized with Carol Kennicott's dismay at being stuck in Gopher Prairie and at her unending efforts to sophisticate the town. Unfortunately, she was up against the narrow-mindedness and gossipy nature of its citizenry, the lack of support from her contemporaries, and the general cultural emptiness of Gopher Prairie. Lewis weaves a tale of frustration and disappointment for Carol and the handful of characters, who like her, really don't belong. The 'good citizens' of Gopher Prairie are smug and insensitive as they look down on the immigrant farmers and laborers who do the real work in the community. The 'I got mine and to hell with you' attitude is amazing from those who believe they are charitable because they roll bandages during WWI while ignoring what's going on around them in their own town. But then as long as their pockets are being stuffed through the efforts of others, who cares? Main Street is a good read but full of some of the most irritating characters you'll ever come across in a novel. This novel is a good choice for book groups because it provokes a lot of conversation. I suggested it to mine and it did just that.
bookweaver on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of the most developed stories I've ever read about marriage...I'm glad I finally discovered it.
chrystal on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
in this classic satire of small-town America, beautiful young Carol Kennicott comes to Gopher Prairie, Minnesota, with dreams of transforming the provincial old town into a place of beauty and culture. But she runs into a wall of bigotry, hypocrisy and complacency. The first popular bestseller to attack conventional ideas about marriage, gender roles, and small town life, Main Street established Lewis as a major American novelist.
athaena on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Found this book to be heavy going at first, but it was well worth sticking with!
Kryseis on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Main Street is about an educated, intelligent woman, Carol, who married the town doctor of a little village called Gopher Prairie, whose intelligence and opinions constantly breaks against the general feeling of the sleepy town like waves against resolute rocks. The town is politically conservative - to the point where the sheriff led the townspeople to beat up and drive out a suspected socialist speaker who wanted to speak to an assembly of speakers. Carol is liberal. The main entertainment to be had at dinners or social gatherings is petty gossip and that neighbours should spy upon each other for gossip fodder is the natural order. Carol likes to read books - Shaw, Romain Rolland, etc. company. Carol wants to enact many reforms on the town such as a new town hall, but they are all rejected and laughed off by the town.In contrast to Carol, Carol's husband has no appreciation for any of the things that Carol holds so dear, like art music or literary books or poetry - he has vague memories of having studied them in university but had no real appreciation for them, calling them "high-brow stuff". He had hoped that Carol would "settle down" and forget all that high-brow stuff and be a wife in the style of the stolid, gossiping way of Gopher Prairie women. Carol stews in this oppressive environment for most of the book.Overall, even though I didn't enjoy reading it, I think it was a very good book and very influential; the dialogue and representation of village life are all very realistic. It eloquently points out all the oppression of village life and village thought and ridicules country folk as well as de Maupassant or Flaubert. However, it can't be forgotten that this is a satirical work. Sinclair Lewis shows the foibles of every character, especially Carol and it is difficult to connect with the story. It's entirely unsentimental and a bit pessimistic. None of the characters are particularly sympathetic. Carol is the main character and is a great reader so the reader might relate to her. However, as Carol stays longer in Gopher Prairie, she unwittingly becomes like them. She acquire their way of thinking. When she goes to Minneapolis for a visit, she think and behaves just the people of Gopher Prairie would - she thinks of what the other housewives would say if they say her eating at a fancy restaurant, in a fancy hotel and other typical big city experiences. Her individuality, for lack of a better word, is being worn down by the oppression of Gopher Prairie and this process is highlighted by Lewis's narration and is quite depressing.
aketzle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
You'd think a 400+ page book about the tedium of small town life would itself be tedious, but it actually wasn't. I was engrossed! And so happy my small(ish) town is nothing like the one described in this book!
CatieN on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The main street of the title is in Gopher Prairie, Minnesota, in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The main character, Carol Milford, moves there from the big city (St. Paul) with her new husband, Dr. Kennicott. Carold finds the town ugly and boring and proceeds to try to change things with mixed results. The story is good, but it is a slow read because of the dense but realistic dialogue. Definitely a classic and an excellent representation of the times.
jenknox on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wow. It takes a damn good writer to create characters you hate so much you love them!Main Street is a portrait of small town Midwestern farm life at the beginning of the 20th century, and the discontent of the main character who tries to change it into her own world. First line (courtesy Amazon...I'm too lazy to pull the book out and type it) "On a hill by the Mississippi where Chippewas camped two generations ago, a girl stood in relief against the cornflower blue of Northern sky." I suggest reading this one laying in the grass in summer... red wine optional :-)
silva_44 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sinclair Lewis was seemingly unafraid to simultaneously bash small towns in the midwest, as well as religious ideals and republican tenants. I found Carol to be a character with whom I wanted to sympathize, but couldn't fully. She seemed affected and artificial, as did many of the other characters in the book. They seemed to be nothing more than the mouthpieces whereby the author voiced his opinions about the downfalls of religious, rural life, while building up the supposed beauty and nobility of the city. The story itself was fairly interesting, but I think that Lewis went too far in depicting a town of exceedingly ugly architecture as well as exceedingly ugly personalities. His liberalism, despite its being the liberalism of the 1920's, was over the top, even for this modern-day reader. And the ending, if it can be called that, was a complete cop-out - Carol should have been forced to make an irrevocable decision. Overall, I was not overly impressed.
BryeWho on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A bit heavy-handed, true, but still a beautiful dissection of small town American faults and foibles. To appreciate it today requires only the least bit of imagination to transfer the setting from town and rural to towncenter and suburban sprawl. In the end it was delightful.
jmoncton on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Carol Kenicott makes the move from the big city of St. Paul to the small farm community of Gopher Prairie when she marries Will, one of the town's doctors. At the beginning of her marriage, Carol has grandiose ideas of transforming this small simple town into a beautiful artistic community. She tries to redecorate, create a community theater and bring her big city life style to this town, but faces resentment and opposition. Although the immediate target of this satire is the narrow minded attitudes of small midwest towns, but much of the personalities quirks and conflicts of Main Street are found in every community, from the big city to the rural country. I thought I would find Carol's life suffocating and depressing, but I didn't find this to be a downer at all. Surprisingly good and insightful!
miketroll on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In centuries to come, people will read Lewis and find out what 20th Century America was like. His writing is substantial, nourishing and Main Street is one of his best.
azfad on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
sharp as a button and as true as ever - main street still has the power to connect.
smg5775 More than 1 year ago
In a word tedious. Sinclair Lewis wrote a satire about small time life. His writing is tedious as he shows what life is like in a small town when you surround yourself with like-minded people. No one wants to change. Everyone knows everything about everybody. No one wants to go out of his/her comfort zone. And his uses his writing to show that. Carol marries Will, Gopher Prairie's doctor. She's used to a big city and tries to change things and is discounted and laughed at and gossiped about. She is a whiner and nothing and nobody does anything she likes. She has an active inner life but drove me crazy. Will does not see Gopher Prairie as Carol does. He sees nothing wrong with the town or the people. He does take Carol to task at times. He is also willing to let her do what she wants even if it is leave but she still is not happy. They have a few blow-ups over her discontent. My favorite character was Miles, the town handy man. He was real but also an outcast. I felt bad for him. The place and time are written well. I am glad I did not live then or there.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Icetears tell them im sorry
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved the story SD!))) I will go and read next chapter ASAP
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Your story at Ica all res isn't up.