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The Flirt

Booth Tarkington

Book Overview: 

Laura and Cora Madison and their younger brother Hedrick live with their parents in a Midwestern American town that is fairly bursting with Cora’s discarded and would-be beaus. Her flirtatiousness annoys the tempestuous Hedrick but not the reserved Laura. The return to town of a handsome, charming former resident and an encounter with a deranged young person set in motion a roller-coaster of events that interweave and play out to an exciting, emotional climax.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . . round, nor did he pause in his slow walk; neither was she clairvoyant; none the less, she knew that he turned his head and looked back at her.

The path led away from the drives and more public walks of the park, to a low hill, thoughtfully untouched by the gardener and left to the shadowy thickets and good-smelling underbrush of its rich native woodland. And here, by a brown bench, waited a tall gentleman in white.

They touched hands and sat without speaking. For several moments they continued the silence, then turned slowly and looked at each other; then looked slowly and gravely away, as if to an audience in front of them. They knew how to do it; but probably a critic in the first row would have concluded that Cora felt it even more than Valentine Corliss enjoyed it.

"I suppose this is very clandestine," she said, after a deep breath. "I don't think I care, though."

"I hope you do. . . Read More

Community Reviews

After several years of focusing on plays, Booth Tarkington returned to writing novels in 1913 with “The Flirt”. Published originally in the Saturday Evening Post, from December 21st 1912 to February 15th 1913, the first of his novels to be serialized in that periodical, “The Flirt” was the first nov

This book is stupid. I love Booth Tarkington, but this one is terrible. The only good thing about it is that the version I have is beautiful, with dozens of illustrations and a slipcover. Do not read this book if you haven't read anything else by this author.

Pretty good but not up to her usual standards,

The Flirt sounds like a rather brief and simple title. But upon reading the book, you see how the title really encompasses the whole story. Cora Madison can stand up to any of the lovely and completely heartless ladies of literature—she doesn't truly care for any man; she only cares for the pleasure

This seemingly old-fashioned, all-American tale tells of Cora Madison, the self-centred, heartless town flirt ... aided by her long-suffering older sister Laura, thwarted by her mischevious younger brother Hedrick, she sweeps along ... then the fireworks begin, leading to an amazing, bang-up ending.

The Flirt, like so many Tarkington stories, is first of all an exercise in gentleness. Tarkington loved his characters to a fault. To his heroes and heroines he showed gentle affection, to his comic relief gentle condescension, and to his villains gentle contempt. All that gentleness throws up a fog

The Flirt feels a lot like Alice Adams, which means that if you liked the latter you'll be interested in the former, but at the same time, you might feel like you've taken this ride before. (The Flirt was, however, written almost a decade before Alice Adams.) Like the Adamses, the Madisons are on th

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