Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Tobacco Road - Erskine Caldwell

Tobacco Road
Title: Tobacco Road
Author: Erskine Caldwell
Publication Date: 1932
Pages: 192
Genre: Classic / Historical / Fiction
How I Found It: 100 Best Novels
Date Completed: 12/26/15

Summary: A look at the lives of the poor, largely uneducated Lester family as they attempt to survive the Depression in rural Georgia.

What I Thought: From the beginning, this novel was what I had expected The Grapes of Wrath to be: a heart-felt reflection on a tough era in American history with characters who were likable despite their ignorance and ill luck and a plot that offered both drama and comic relief. 

I had never heard of Erskine Caldwell before starting the 100 Best Novels challenge, but, as with Wallace Stegner, I am glad to have done so now. Caldwell's perspective on Depression-era sharecroppers felt fresh and even funny to me at times. His characters, for all their lunacy and eccentricity, were enjoyable ones with which to spend a story. To me, they were the real difference between this work and Steinbeck's. I liked the Lester family, for all their faults. 

I wondered, too, if listening to this one as an audio book didn't make a difference as well. As you know if you read my review of Steinbeck's classic, I found the written out dialect extremely irritating. Here, even if Caldwell had done the same, I would not have noticed in in audio book form. It made me wish again I had been able to find the same for The Grapes of Wrath

I think this is one of the 100 Best that will land solidly in the middle of the pack for me. It was a pleasant surprise and I definitely enjoyed it, particularly more than others of its ilk. Still, I did not see anything monumentally fantastic about it. 

Rating: ★★★★☆
Will I Re-Read: Possibly

A Reduced Review: Equally entertaining and mournful, I greatly enjoyed Erskine Caldwell's look into Depression-era life. 

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