Cass Timberlane has broken back, funny bits

Cass Timberlane: A Novel of Husbands and Wives is really two books represented respectively by the title and subtitle.

In the main story, Cass Timberland, 41, an intellectually astute and emotionally dense Minnesota judge falls for a young girl with “fine ankles and a clear voice” who testifies in a negligence case.

Cass Timberlane: A Novel of Husbands and Wives
by Sinclair Lewis

Random House, 1945. 390 pages.  1945 bestseller # 5. My Grade: B-.

When Jenny loses her job, Cass persuades her to marry him.

Without a job to go to, Jenny is bored. Cass encourages Jenny to go out with his buddy Bradd, whom he knows to be a womanizer.

What happens is predictable to everyone except Cass.

Cass is a hoot. He can recognize the stupidity of things he does when other people do them. What he doesn’t see is that dumb is dumb no matter who does it.

Sinclair Lewis sketches other characters — especially those in the other marriages —well enough to make them individuals, but not well enough to make them interesting. They add nothing to the main plot.

However, many of Lewis’s individual sentences are delightful. For example, Juliet Zago takes out a library book on “Freud’s translations from the original four-letter words.”

If you can be content with such small pleasures, you may enjoy Cass Timberlane.

As a novel, Cass Timberlane is a dud.


© 2015 Linda Gorton Aragoni


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Linda G. Aragoni

I make big ideas simple for learners. In eight sentences, 34 words, I taught teens and adults to write competently. Now I'm writing guides to turn willing volunteers into great nursing home visitors.

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