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Sinclair Lewis's Mantrap: Book Review

Jun 8, 2008
Sinclair Lewis was well known for a wide array of fantastic novles that not only affected, but even changed, American society. "Mantrap" is barely remembered, as it was not one of Lewis's major works, but it is a pleasant read and one of his early novels.

"Mantrap" is a 1925 novel of Ralph Prescott, a New York lawyer who goes into the wilderness where he finds himself competing with an experienced woodsman for the attentions of his (the woodsman's) beautiful, but bored, wife.

This book, while not as directly political as many of Sinclair Lewis's other works, does display the conflicting roles of men and women in the 1920's. Ralph Prescott, a 40 year old bachelor is persuaded by E. Wesson Woodbury to join him for several weeks roughing it during the summer in northern Canada.

The plan is for them to travel through northern Canada while fishing, hunting, and meeting Indians and fur trappers and live the "simple," rugged life of the great outdoors as a way of getting away for the summer.

Prescott decides to make the trip because he was working long hours and stressing himself out. He agrees to go, only to find out on the trail that he hates the bullying, self-important Wes Woodbury.

At one of their camping spots a Canadian fur trader named Joe Easter shows up. Joe owns a store at Mantrap Landing, and Ralph comes to regard Joe as a true friend, and then begs him to take him away from Wes Woodbury.

Joe agrees, and as their canoe heads toward Mantrap Landing, Joe tells Ralph about a visit he took to Minneapolis the year before, which was where he met and married his wife, Alverna, whom he brought back to live with him in the wild.

Alverna is bored and a flirt, and it doesn't take long before Ralph is heads over heels in love with her. To break away from temptation Ralph decides to take off in a canoe with only a single guide to find his original host, Woodbury.

Alverna runs away from Joe and persuades Ralph to take her with him back to civilization. The two become lovers, and their guide steals their canoe and abandons them right before an understandably furious Joe Easter catches up with them, right before massive forest fires almost engulf all three.

The three survive, and each chooses their own path at the end, leading to a relatively light ending for a Sinclair Lewis novel, and a pretty easy read. This novel was written a year after Lewis himself spent some time in Canada, though his brother stayed their far longer.

This is an enjoyable read of Sinclair Lewis that works as good summer reading, and if you've ever wanted to see great north, the description in this book is worthy of any modern travel classic.
About the Author
If you want to know more about Sinclair Lewis, or about Mantrap please feel free to visit my sites.

Thanks for reading.

Shane Dayton
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