The Root of His Evil by James M. Cain

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

While slinging hash in a diner, a would-be Cinderella meets her Prince Charming.

Carrie Selden is not at all like the woman you’ve read about in the papers. Though she was raised in an orphanage, she isn’t an orphan. She didn’t finish high school until she was nineteen, but that was because she was working as a waitress, not because she was slow. And though she’s very cunning, well, she’s no femme fatale. But her beauty . . . oh yes, her beauty is everything you’ve heard.

At twenty-one, she takes her savings and moves to New York City, landing a job at a diner called Karb’s, at the bottom rung of the restaurant chain’s tall corporate ladder. Though she makes minimum wage, Carrie is savvy, and it isn’t long before she starts to climb. When her coworkers unionize, they choose her as president, and from there, the sky is the limit. But just as the union gets underway, she meets a mysterious intellectual named Grant—who will either help her rise to the top, or drag her straight down to hell.

My impressions:

This beginning-of-the-twentieth- century retelling of the story of Cinderella had it all what it takes to be charming: a heroine with a lot of gumption and brains, a handsome prince with a nearly-fatal flaw, his mother, beautiful but nasty like a viper, and a treacherous friend of our Cindy. The tale starts off where classic fairy tales end – with the marriage.  Carrie Selden, a young New York waitress, meets Grant Harris while serving his drink. One look or two, a short conversation, a walk and a sailing trip and they get married. Only after the marriage Carrie finds out who her husband is: a heir of a railroad billions fortune obsessed with Indians. That man comes along burdened with a snobby family and a possessive, beautiful mother he is besotted with. Soon nobody is giving Carrie any chance to keep him but she is stubborn and wants the man she likes. Still she will have to turn into a princess-warrior in order to conquer the mother-in-law dragoness breathing down her neck.

I liked characterization and some scenes, especially those which featured Carrie dealing with the family of her husband. The first meeting with his sisters was precious! I didn’t like the way Carrie treated Holden and that cover art which shows a hussy, not a waitress. I have to say most of plot twists were quite predictable. Still I enjoyed that story immensely – now I want to read more of this author!

Final verdict:

A novel as charming as its last chapter which I quote below:

“Tomorrow, Grant says, we start a perfectly hellish life, with mosquitoes, snakes, heat and everything else to bother us, and I guess it will be hard. But tonight there will be the Caribbean moon, and as it dances across the water, I shall think of the Modern Cinderella, and pretend that the light on the waves is really the silver slipper falling into her lap.”


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6 Responses to The Root of His Evil by James M. Cain

  1. blodeuedd says:

    Nah, not for lil old me

  2. heidenkind says:

    That is not the summary I was expecting from that cover

  3. Carole Rae says:

    Awwe! This sounds like a good one. To the maybe pile!

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