The Rise of Silas Lapham

The Rise of Silas Lapham


(2 Reviews)
The Rise of Silas Lapham by William Dean Howells







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The Rise of Silas Lapham


(2 Reviews)
Silas Lapham goes from rags to riches, and his ensuing moral susceptibility is the center of this tale. Silas earns a fortune in the paint business, but lacks social standards, a failure which he attempts to remedy through his daughter's marriage to the scion of the aristocratic Corey family.

Book Excerpt

to let her know that he sees it. Why, my mother--" he stopped. "It gives me a lump in the throat," he said apologetically, with an attempt at a laugh. Then he went on: "She was a little frail thing, not bigger than a good-sized intermediate school-girl; but she did the whole work of a family of boys, and boarded the hired men besides. She cooked, swept, washed, ironed, made and mended from daylight till dark--and from dark till daylight, I was going to say; for I don't know how she got any time for sleep. But I suppose she did. She got time to go to church, and to teach us to read the Bible, and to misunderstand it in the old way. She was GOOD. But it ain't her on her knees in church that comes back to me so much like the sight of an angel as her on her knees before me at night, washing my poor, dirty little feet, that I'd run bare in all day, and making me decent for bed. There were six of us boys; it seems to me we were all of a size; and she was just so careful with all of us. I can feel her hands on my fe

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I'm writing only in the hope of counteracting the effect of the only other review of this American classic. The Rise of Silas Lapham is one of my favorite American novels. It is rich in characterization; the motives and idiosyncrasies of members of the Lapham and Corey families are carefully and deeply drawn. It is also a novel about relationships within families, relationships based on love and mutual respect, if not always wisdom. It exposes the divide--the reasons for it and its consequences--between old Boston aristocracy and the newly wealthy. The friction between the two classes is specific to the setting in time and place but universal in its application. This is also a meta-novel: Howells dramatizes the negative effects, as he sees them, of romanticizing in popular novels, and he shows us a world in which the realism he espoused is the truth. But it\'s the characters, their attempt to navigate a life fraught with danger and suffering, who will stay with you.
Highly recommended
I listened to this as an audiobook that I downloaded from the library. It was "okay". Seemed like a second-rate Edith Wharton novel.
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