Dell Publishing Co., 666 pages.
This is Not the book cover of Rich Man, Poor Man. Try as I may, I cannot find a photo of the edition I have. Nor any other book cover version of the title.
Apparently, Rich Man, Poor Man is more famous for being a TV series rather than what it first started out–as a novel by Irwin Shaw. But few people know that before it even became a novel–it was first published as a short story in Playboy Magazine in the 1970’s.
I’m a sucker for thick rich novels with almost no endings and this being a very realistic family saga, I truly enjoyed it! It was truly worth my wait. I waited 15 years to read this book. I first tried to start when I was 11 years old, but the thickness /deepness of it did not appeal back then.
So the plot is about the Jordache siblings–Gretchen, Rudolph and Thomas (Tom). Raised in the East Side (just outside of NY) by troubled immigrant parents in the 1930’s, the three Jordache children face the hard life in different ways.
This novel focuses on how children react and live their lives according to how their parents regard them. Their mother and father have branded them accordingly: Gretchen the daughter with a saintly appearance but sleeps around town, Rudolph, the perfect son student and brother who will grow up in a perfect manner, and Tom–the troublemaker who will no doubt bring shame to the family.
It’s not surprising that the three children do grow up as to how their parents have regarded them. Gretchen moved away from their quaint little town to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, attaching herself to different men (but they were not necessarily shallow relationships). Rudolph predictably climbed the ladder of success and eventually became the mayor of their hometown. And Tom literally fought his way into life–becoming a boxer and seaman.
Because of their parents’ favoritism and unbelievable condemnation (to themselves and their children), Gretchen, Rudolph and Tom developed a very stoic, civil and cold relationship with one another.
As much as they tried to live independently and away from each other, the three find that the ups and downs of life inevitably draw them all together, like a special magnetic force.
The plot is very realistic–no unnecessary or exagerrated dramas, no over glorified victories either.
Shaw’s pace and writing is slightly similar to Sidney Sheldon’s although Shaw’s fine details are missing in Sheldon’s fast paced paragraphs and plot twists.
I would love to see the ABC-TV presentation of this. Starring Peter Strauss, Nick Nolte, and Susan Blakely.