The Plutocrat is a very good novel, but one that I suspect modern readers will find as alien as Jane Austen.
The book is about a young playwright, Laurence Ogle. Flying high on the success of his first play, he books passage for North Africa.
The Plutocrat by Booth Tarkington
1927 bestseller #2. 543 pp. My grade: A-
On board ship, Ogle is smitten with the sophisticated good looks of a Parisian woman with a son about his own age.
Mme. Momoro, however, is more interested in an American businessman who is dragging his family across the Atlantic to get daughter Olivia away from an unsuitable young man.
To Ogle, Mr. Tinker appears to be a course, back-slapping shopkeeper, totally lacking in culture and sensitivity; the wife appears dull; the daughter sullen.
Ogle has been brought up to believe in a natural aristocracy of intellectual, artistic individuals. He’s shocked that other intelligent people express high regard for Tinker and his buying power.
When Ogle finds himself far from home, short of money, without friends, he’s forced to re-think his prejudices.
Even if Booth Tarkington weren’t such a fine writer, The Plutocrat would be worth reading just to see how far we Americans have come — or gone — in the last century in our regard for the power of money.
©2017 Linda Gorton Aragoni