Carrie Meeber rises to stardom from poverty in the theater scene of Chicago while her rich lover begins to fall apart. Carrie Meeber journeys to live with her sister in Chicago to escape the boredom of rural life in Wisconsin. She meets Charles Drouet on the train. The two are immediately attracted to one another and exchange contact information. Later when Carrie grows tired of her sister's poor living conditions, she tells Drouet not to see her there. She takes a taxing factory job that she hates and soon loses. She encounters Drouet again by chance, and he offers to allow her to move in with him, giving her an envelope with $20 in it. Carrie soon agrees and becomes a kept woman in her own apartment in Drouet's estate. Carrie gradually becomes more sophisticated in her dress and manner. Now a member of the Chicago elite, Drouet introduces her to the rich manager of a successful bar in Chicago, George Hurstwood, with who she soon begins an affair.
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Carries secures a role in a Chicago theater production, a position in which she excels. Both Drouet and Hurstwood are enraptured by her performance, but Drouet still does not know of Carrie's affair with the other man. When he learns of the illicit relationship, Drouet explodes. Carrie flees with Hurstwood to Canada. Hurstwood stole a large amount of money from his business before they left. The couple is found by a private investigator. After returning the money, Hurstwood manages to convince Carrie to stay with him by offering to marry her. The couple does marry and makes a new life for themselves in New York. Their relationship gradually deteriorates nonetheless and Carrie gains the attentions of Robert Ames, a local artist.
Hurstwood's finances are quickly depleting. Unwilling to work, he descends into poverty while his wife finds employment once again in the theater. As Carrie ascends the New York theatrical world to stardom, Hurstwood becomes a cab driver and later a homeless beggar, his wife long gone. He kills himself just as Carrie reaches the apex of her fame.
Best part of story, including ending:
The description of Chicago and New York in the 1900's was very engaging. The living and the arts scene were vibrant and cutthroat in a way that many portrayals of the past seem to miss.
Best scene in story:
Carrie's arrival in Chicago as a very simple country girl is charming.
Opinion about the main character:
The two main characters seem doomed to be themselves in a way that most books don't portray. Their character flaws, especially Hurstwood's, are so apparent but they seem unable to change at all.