I'm currently reading Rich Man, Poor Man by Irwin Shaw. I bought it a month ago in a Books for Less Store just near our office. It was a random, no-thinking process except for the fact that the first paragraph caught me. Just like the works I've read that were written by Susan Howatch, The Rich are Different and Wheel of Fortune, this type of material does not fail to entice me. It's ironic that a person, who's not a fan of watching dramatic soap operas, likes to read soap operas in rich epic-style novels. Personally, all the failures, the rise, the retributions for me are so nicely and intricately described in written form. Probably this is my kind of soap opera.
I always find myself drawn to this kind of material especially those with post-war settings. The rise from poverty to milking the once-booming Wallstreet. Tainted relationships seeking retribution and revenge. The tragedies, failures and victories. Lunches, the wonders of New York and afternoon martini's. From first generation to third generation. All the elements of creating perfect soap operas are there. No wonder these types of books are distinctively thick. Also it takes a lot of effort to develop and write characters, situations and relationships in an epic novel without appearing to be boring and lame. Susan Howatch is good at this, now I'm liking Irwin Shaw too.
The main characters are the Jordache siblings set after World War 2 in the re-growing New York. Rudolph Jordache, the sleek, industrious, diligent, smart and ambitious brother. Gretchen, the pretty, sensual, independent, strong willed and harlot sister. Thomas, the black sheep, the the courageous, the heartless and ill-fated brother. The story revolves around the three of them and how they continuously strived to meet their goals, their aspirations and their dreams in the time of booming richness and opportunities. The novel describes the evolution of their relationships with each other and the confrontation of skeletons in their closests.
Despite the story's scope, intricacies and magnitude, it's not boring for me. It's written well and it's faced paced. I should know.
When my boss saw me reading the novel during lunch, she confessed that she was able to follow the ABC TV adaptation of the novel. In fact, she loved the soap opera. She now assumes that it must be better on written form. Without watching the ABC TV adaptation, I agreed.