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Publisher's Summary

Widely hailed as a milestone in American literature, Sinclair Lewis' Main Street vividly describes a country on the verge of massive change, with traditional values being threatened by progress. The novel's heroine, Carol Milford, is a highly educated, ambitious woman who plans to join a newly enlightened society. But after marrying a small-town doctor, she finds herself trapped in the role of a dutiful wife. Carol's desires for social change conflict with the security of her comfortable married life, as she struggles to understand the cost of conformity...and rebellion. As relevant today as it was upon its 1920 publication, Main Street is both a masterful piece of writing and a fascinating microcosm of America's social evolution.
Public Domain (P)1996 Recorded Books

Critic Reviews

"A most searching and excellent piece of work; a feather in the cap of literature." (John Galsworthy)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Story

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Steve Bird
  • GREENSBORO, NC, United States
  • 06-14-05

Delightful reading of an excellent book

When downloading this book, I was unsure which reading to choose. First I noticed that this reading is about 2 hours longer than the other one, meaning that the other recording was read at a much faster clip. I listened to the audio samples and decided this was the superior choice. I was not disappointed. Ms. Caruso is a fantastic storyteller. I have noticed that even excellent male readers sometimes annoy with their falsetto "female" voices, but Ms. Caruso does an excellent job with the men in this story, while of course doing a wonderful Carol. She brings the 85-year-old dialog to life with a delightful, graceful rhythm that flows as naturally as if it were written last year. I wish she had narrated more books that interested me. Maybe I'll check out "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" just for her.

As for the book itself, I was surprised by just how relevant Mr. Lewis's depiction of life in 1910s Gopher Prairie remains today. We really have not changed much as a nation. Or perhaps we've circled back around. The story of Carol chafing against the small town that thinks the world of itself (and thinks rather little of the world) is poingnant, personal and well-told, while people and attitudes of Gopher Prairie are clearly recognizable in our current national characer. Listen to this book and realize that America exists in the struggle between Carol and Gopher Prairie. Indeed, America <i>is</i> the struggle between Carol and Gopher Prairie. In 2005, as in the 1910s, GP has the upper hand. At other times the Carols of America have, and at some point they will again. But one without the other would not truly be America.

I highly recommend this Audiobook as a wonderful reading of one of the Great American Novels.

24 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Gary
  • Sioux Falls, SD, USA
  • 06-27-04

Great Classic Well Narrated

This great classic by Sinclair Lewis is a mix of well drawn characters that both touches your heart and engages your mind. Although its fame lies in its depiction of the provincialism of Midwest attitudes, it far surpasses this narrow view of the book. It touches on our humanity. This also happens to be an oustanding narration with excellent audio clarity. Outstanding classic by one of America's leading literary lights.

17 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Worth the price

I first purchased a less expensive audible version of this book and - try as I might - I simply couldn't get into the narrator's rendition of the classic. I balked at the thought of spending an additional, and relatively high, amount on a second version but finally bit the bullet. Well, it was *so* worth it! Ms Caruso's reading is engrossing - she captures the meaning and innuendos of Lewis' words in a pleasing voice.

I recommend paying the price - it will make all the difference in experiencing "Main Street."

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

A woman's voice suits Carol well

Where does Main Street rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

In the high middle.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Main Street?

Carol's earnest encounters with the Gopher Prairie folks, trying to being them enlightenment.

What about Barbara Caruso’s performance did you like?

She got into Carol's mindset and also those of the farmers and small town folk. She handled accents well and convincingly.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

When Carol accompanies her husband on his medical call at night to save a woman in labor.

Any additional comments?

Caruso improves the story Lewis tells by her sympathy amidst the satire Sinclair Lewis lavished. He can get a bit heavy-handed, but Caruso helped move the plot along, even if the story goes on a bit longer than likely a lot of readers a century later would tolerate.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Thought of stopping 1/3 way in, glad I didn't

Where does Main Street rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

At first, the story and the protagonist annoyed (and bored) me. There's a mean-spiritedness about both that I found off putting. And yet, the story and the lead character grew on me. As I progressed further into the story, the characters became very real to me. Though difficult to accept at first, I could identify with them. What I initially thought of as mean-spiritedness is Lewis being honest. Not an easy listen, but definitely a worthwhile one.

What other book might you compare Main Street to and why?

Madame Bovary. Both have protagonists that long for something that is probably out of their reach.

Any additional comments?

At first, I thought the only value of the novel was as a sociological document. A chronicle of a people, time, and place that, frankly, is of interest only to sociologists. But, as mentioned above, the characters really grew on me. I became emotionally involved in their lives.

Though it is episodic in structure, if you can get through the first third of it, I think you'll find it hard to put down.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Wow!

I loved this book so much! There is a very good review at the top, so please go to that before reading. The comparison to Lake Woebegone was spot on. The story, themes and main character struck so many chords for me, personally, and continually amazed me how little things have changed in the last 100 years. The unrelenting listing of details is sometimes overwhelming in the audio format, but it completely put me right into the period to where I could visualize everything and will swear I could hear and smell Gopher Prairie as well as if I'd actually visited. The narrator is a favorite and she was fantastic here as well. If you've always wanted to travel back in time for a couple of weeks, read this book.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Sinclair Lewis Ahead of His Time

Having read Babbit, Dodsworth and It Can't Happen Here, I was not disappointed in listening to Main Street. The narrator was excellent. I was dubious as to a female voice.; however it was wholly appropriate and fitting .

Sinclair Lewis was ahead of his time in 1920 in addressing feminism and provincialism. This was a great "read" and leaves me excited to choose his next novel. And, I should reconsider my self-proclaimed label of conservative.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Nobel prize! Feh!

What a disappointment! "Main Street" tells the story of Carol Kennicott, a city girl who marries a small town doctor, and finds her new life in Gopher Prairie unbearably stultifying. She tries scheme after scheme to spark some intellectual life into the backward village, only to find her efforts frustrated by the obdurate blockheads who comprise the town. She flirts with the idea of having an affair with a young tailor, but never really moves much beyond daydreaming about it. Later, she leaves her husband, taking a bureaucratic position in Washington during World War I. After a year or so of that, she returns to Gopher Prairie, proud of herself that she never really surrendered to its dullness.

That's the plot. Truthfully, it's hard to make an exciting novel out of a story whose theme is tedium. But the deficiencies of this novel go far deeper than the feeble story line. The fundamental defect is that the protagonist is a self-centered purblind twit. She rails against the narrow-mindedness of her husband, but doesn't see how omphalocentric is her own desire to recast the entire town in her own image.

Running throughout this novel, sometimes subtly, sometimes blatantly, is a dyspeptic view of America and Americans. It is more than satirical; it is misanthropic. Like other socialists, it seems that Lewis loved mankind but didn't like people, at least not his countrymen. The townsfolk of Gopher Prairie are portrayed as buffoons. Even Carol's husband, Dr. Will Kennicutt, is portrayed by Lewis as a stereotype, not a real person. Here is a man who can amputate a farmer's arm on a kitchen table by the light of a lantern, focusing on his duty rather than the too-real risk that the lantern flame might spark an explosion of the ether anesthetic. Yet, Carol--and apparently Lewis, too--finds him a dull character.

Lewis was the first American to win a Nobel prize in literature. He was the kind of American writer that chauvinistic Europeans could love.

13 of 39 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Jan
  • 03-29-15

Bitter Sarcastic Long

Yes, small town US had and has issues, but some more nuance and empathy would increase the experience of listening