This is one of the first books to ever win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and it’s also the basis for a kind of “lost” film by Orson Welles. You can watch a version of the movie The Magnificent Ambersons by Orson Welles, but apparently it’s not his vision or cut. Mythos argues that his version would have been the best American film of all time.
Anyway, unlike a few other books that won the Pulitzer like The Age of Innocence and The Bridge of San Luis Rey, this one has not exactly stayed with us in major ways. It’s still around, it’s known, but it’s not particularly remembered or regarded.
It’s an ok book. I gave it a three out of five because it starts really promising and reminded me of Sinclair Lewis. I thought it was going to be a biting satire or send up of the rich classes in America like Lewis or Wharton, but it peters out and looks for redemption for its character when a kind of bitter savagery might have been better served.
It’s about a middle sized city with a larger than life rich family who shadows over everything literally with their giant mansion occupying one whole corner of the city. As the generations wind down, we find the end of the family line leading to the grandson of the Major being a real shit as a child and growing into a confused and floundering adult.
I wonder, but maybe not, but this is a very early example (1918) of using the automobile as the clearest symbol of the democratization of economics and American life.