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Main Street

Sinclair Lewis

Book Overview: 

Carol Milford is a liberal, free-spirited young woman, reared in the metropolis of Minneapolis. She marries Will Kennicott, a doctor, who is a small-town boy at heart. When they marry, Will convinces her to live in his home-town of Gopher Prairie, Minnesota. Carol is appalled at the backwardness of Gopher Prairie. But her disdain for the town’s physical ugliness and smug conservatism compels her to reform it.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .She was relieved by the admiration with which the jeune fille Rita Simons looked at the steel buckles on her pumps; but she resented Mrs. Howland's tart demand, "Don't you find that new couch of yours is too broad to be practical?" She nodded, then shook her head, and touchily left Mrs. Howland to get out of it any meaning she desired. Immediately she wanted to make peace. She was close to simpering in the sweetness with which she addressed Mrs Howland: "I think that is the prettiest display of beef-tea your husband has in his store."

"Oh yes, Gopher Prairie isn't so much behind the times," gibed Mrs. Howland. Some one giggled.

Their rebuffs made her haughty; her haughtiness irritated them to franker rebuffs; they were working up to a state of painfully righteous war when they were saved by the coming of food.

Though Juanita Haydock was highly advanced in the matters of finger-bowls, doilies, and bath-mats, her "refreshments" were typical . . . Read More

Community Reviews

I definitely liked this book and recommend it to others. There is so much to think about; it can be discussed from many different angles. So what are its topics? First of all, life in small towns versus life in cities. This is what the book is said to be about. Love is another theme. It is not a...more

This was Lewis first novel, published in 1920, and it was a huge success, both critically and commercially. It made him a rich man and launched a career that would include the Nobel Prize for literature in 1930. Lewis felt that Main Street should have won the Pulitzer Prize in 1921 but was edged...more

On page 25 I thought – this guy is brilliant.

On page 50 I thought – this guy is exhaustively brilliant.

On page 100 I thought – I’m exhausted.

On page 150 I thought – I’ll never get out of this novel alive.

On page 200 I thought – so who knew there could be so much DETAIL about every last possible a...more

Small-town America. Ah, the scent of pine. The musty ramshackle old hardware store.

But what is this? Something amiss in one of these romanticized burgs? Something dark and sinister?

"I never imagined something like this would happen in our town," says the half-toothless talking head on the six o...more

I was dimly aware of Sinclair Lewis but completely unfamiliar with his work when I read John Steinbeck's Travels with Charley: In Search of America a couple of years ago. Steinbeck, who admired Lewis, wanted to find his way from St Paul to Sauk Centre, Lewis' Minnesota hometown and the town on wh...more

The action of this more than 400-page pavement takes place before and shortly after the First World War, in a small town in Minnesota called Gopher Prairie and where one might think that Sinclair Lewis has put a lot of his native background.
For his people and for Dr. William Kennicott when he des...more

Classics Cleanup Challenge #11
Audio #159

I didn’t like all of the arguing. For some reason it really upset me.

Sinclair Lewis explores his love and hate of small midwestern American towns as women's fiction.

I had just moved to a small town in Minnesota - with the same aspirations as this classic charater of many years before me, yet my thoughts and run ins were very much the same 50 years later. It was a reminder that one fits or one doesn't fit but to spend your life trying to change the engrained...more

"A bomb to blow up smugness" is what one woman hopefully calls her child in Sinclair Lewis's broadside attack on mainstream America, and that's surely what this book is.

I didn't know a book can be quiet and bombastic at the same time, but Lewis has written it. It covers just over a decade in Caro...more

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