Rich Man, Poor Man by Irwin Shaw  » Books  »
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    • by Elisabeth

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      Rich Man, Poor Man chronicles the lives of three siblings from the 1940s to the 1960s. The story is so riveting that the book’s 665 pages flew through my fingers. The book does take time to get you invested in the characters, but once you do it’s hard to abandon their story.

      The Jordache family is one based upon disappointment and anger. Mary Jordache is the unhappy wife whose saintly upbringing in an orphanage did little to prepare her for her sexually charged husband, Axel Jordache. Axel, a veteran of WWI, is a man driven by bitterness. He cannot bury his anger towards his home

      country, others who are wealthier, even his own son Thomas. Together, they are the parents of Gretchen - a beautiful young woman, Rudolph - a brilliant student who succeeds in everything, and Thomas - the black sheep of the family who uses nothing skillfully but his fists.

      All three Jordache children want to get away from the house of their pitiful mother and vicious father, and their hopes are fulfilled as an action by Gretchen sets off a chain of events that lead to Gretchen’s departure for New York, Tom’s banishment to Ohio, and Rudolph’s apprenticeship of sorts with Teddy Boylan - a rich, selfish ...

      • man.

        So the siblings are scattered through the U.S, and their lives become increasingly different, as the siblings do themselves. Gretchen immerses herself in one relationship after another, only to move on to the next. Rudolph becomes a successful businessman and later on a hopeful politician. Thomas gives in to his animal rage and becomes a prizefighter. Their lives continue as such for some time, Gretchen and Rudolph united in their disapproval of Thomas.

        The book ends on a fantastic, if heartbreaking note. The whole book seems to lead up to the end, for nothing prepares you for the ending. I almost cried from the

        irony and horrible injustice of it, but then I took it at face value - the book aimed to portray a real family in the depths of poverty post World War II, and it stayed true to its goal. The ending was not idealistic because the previous six hundred and something pages were not… The story was about real people, real life, and we all know that reality doesn’t play to anyone’s fancy.

        Rich Man, Poor Man is an excellent read which will certainly bring you to do some introspection of your own as you follow each of the Jordaches on their respective paths.

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    The review was published as it's written by reviewer in July, 2010. The reviewer certified that no compensation was received from the reviewed item producer, trademark owner or any other institution, related with the item reviewed. The site is not responsible for the mistakes made. 175071178760231/k2311a075/7.5.10
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