Sentimentality Sinks Ann Vickers 

Ann Vickers is Sinclair Lewis’s  fictional exposé of the  American prison system of the 1920s, a system riddled with corruption, brutality, and stupidity.

Ann Vickers is a bright, bossy child who grows up to be a bright, bossy woman. After college she stuffs envelopes for the women’s suffrage movement. An unfortunate mistake lands her in jail and sets her on a career in prison administration and penal reform.

While Ann’s professional career prospers, her personal life stagnates. She can’t find a man that meets her standards. Her first love affair ends in the abortion of a child whose loss she mourns the rest of her life.

Recoiling from the desertion of a male friend she would gladly have married, Ann marries a fellow social worker only to discover he has all the male flaws she despises. She turns from him to a sexy judge, standing by him even when he’s found guilty of corruption and sentenced to five years in prison.

Lewis skips lightly over Ann’s idiotic behavior, reserving his barbs for the world that birthed people who would make his heroine unhappy. That sloppy sentimentality keeps Ann Vickers from being a great novel or great social criticism.

Ann Vickers
By Sinclair Lewis
Doubleday, Doran, 1933
562 pages
My grade B-

© 2013 Linda Gorton Aragoni