When small-town girl Carrie Meeber sets out for Chicago, she is equipped with nothing but a few dollars, a certain unspoiled beauty and charm, and a pitiful lack of preparation for the complex moral choices she will face. Adrift in an indifferent city, she struggles from the sweatshop to stage success and inspires an obsessive love in a married man twice her age—which threatens to destroy him.
Dreiser transforms the conventional fallen-woman story into a genuinely original work of imaginative fiction. He hurls his impressionable eighteen-year-old heroine into the amoral world of the big city and reveals, with powerful insight, the driving forces of our culture: America's restless idealism, glamorous material seductions, and spiritual innocence. Many consider this the greatest novel on urban life ever written.