Monday, January 2, 2012

Book It – Rich Man, Poor Man

As many of you know, particularly my regular blog readers, I am a shameless biblioholic with a severe addiction to reading. And because of this voracious appetite for reading, I have read a countless number of books since I was a child. Some of them have been amazing. Some of them so-so. Others somewhere in the middle. And some even lousy. But no matter how I rate them, I love them all; they exercise my mind, build up my vocabulary, help me practice my grammar skills and fuel my imagination. What’s there not to love about reading?

All that being said, it seems a shame not to share some of the books I’ve run across in my biblioholic world, so I’ve decided to introduce a new theme to this blog that will feature one book a week that I’ve personally read. The post will be short and sweet, and will include the publisher’s description (or another site’s) followed by a comment or two from me. And the rating I will give the featured book will be according to my own personal opinion, so don’t huff and puff if I say a book’s a snoozer when you think it’s a work of genius. Not that any of you would do that; you’re all too terrific to behave that way.

Okay, here’s this week’s book...

Rich Man, Poor Man
Author: Irwin Shaw

From AbeBooks:

This is the story of brothers Rudolph and Thomas Jordache and their sister, Gretchen. The Jordaches are German-American, their father a 1920s immigrant who fought on the wrong side in the First World War and now in 1945 works in a down-beat bakery selling stale cherry pie in New York. Embittered, brutal and miserly, Axel Jordache holds little charm for his defeatist wife or their disaffected offspring. Rudy, the dutiful son, is smart, diligent and quiet, working hard at school because he sees education as a passport to the better life he wants. He is the good guy. Tom is wild, indolent, aggressive, sees nothing beyond today and wants only to use his fists. He is the bad guy. As for Gretchen: naive, beautiful and restless, Gretchen just wants a guy. Three young people, all in their individual ways bright kids and all, in their individual ways, wanting out. But this is post-war America. Nothing is going to come easy. Who will make their fortune and how? Covering two decades while it whisks the reader from coast to coast in the States and over to the South of France, this is one of the original blockbusters to achieve - justifiably - the status of a classic.

My Comments:

I first read this 1969 masterpiece by Irwin Shaw in my teen years, and it continues to be one of my all-time favourite stories. It contains all the elements that make a book enjoyable: great writing style, captivating plot, unexpected twists and very interesting characters. I highly recommend Rich Man, Poor Man to anyone who is searching for a good read. It’s a definite five star rating.

In 1976 a television miniseries was adapted from the novel. The miniseries premiered on ABC and starred Peter Strauss as Rudy and Nick Nolte as Tom. I watched the miniseries with my family way before I read the book and loved it. I was only 11 at the time and had no idea that it was even based on a book. I ran across the novel years later in a bookstore and snatched it up. You can imagine how excited I was at this discovery.


  1. I was in my late teens when the miniseries aired and I loved it. Do you know that RMPM was the first TV miniseries ever? It started the whole genre. Then I read the book next and loved it too.

  2. This will be great weekly feature Martha - looking forward to all your reviews :)

    I've seen this book many-a-time in VV and Goodwill, but haven't read it, nor do I remember watching the mini-series. Sounds like a very good one and perhaps next time I'll stop and take a closer look.

  3. @Debra: I had no idea! What a cool bit of trivia. You really do learn something new every day...


    @Jane: You will love this story; it's really worth taking a look at. It's so engaging. I've been meaning to read this book again, but just haven't gotten to it yet; there are just too many waiting to be read!

  4. Aww yay! I love books! If I see this one in my travels I'll pick it up. I had a thing for Mini Series as a child:) Any book good enough to be made into such a thing is right up my alley.

  5. LaelShine, this one's a gem; that's why it got its own spot on TV.