East of Eden by John Steinbeck

>> Thursday, February 11, 2010

East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Genre: Fiction
Publication Date: 1952
Pages: 601
Challenges: None
Source: Purchased New

The Short Version:
An epic multi-generational saga that is completely worth the length and is a book you’ll want to discuss with others who have read it.

Why I Read It:
I’ve had this one on my mental “I really should read that someday” list for a long time. A few months ago I was involved in a conversation on Twitter in which Trish and Jen both talked about how much they loved this book. Before long it was the first book chosen for the Classic Reads Book Club. We’re discussing it there and it’s not too late to join in. I only had to be through section 2 this week, but I got to a point where I couldn’t put it down until I finished.

The Book:
It’s a big sprawling multi-genarational saga set primarily in California’s Salinas Valley. The story centers around two families; the Hamiltons and the Trasks. The time frame spans post Civil War through World War 1. The Hamiltons are a family of Irish immigrants full of dreamers and opportunists. Two generations of Trasks test the theory of good vs. evil as well as recreating the story of Cain and Abel and so very much more. It’s full of good people, possibly evil people, dreamers, practical survivors, thinkers and families who love and don’t know how to love all at the same time

My Thoughts:
What a wonderful book! Steinbeck was a genius with words. His descriptions are perfect. Within the first few pages I was hypnotized by his perfect description of the color of a California Poppy. Although the book is populated with characters of all kinds, you still get a sense of place. His characters are incredibly complex, even the ones who are clearly good or bad often question their own motivations and nature.

I hit so many different emotions while reading this book. At times I was appalled at what characters did. I rooted for characters that seemed lost in their own uncertainties. There were parts that made me very sad. There were parts that I found heartwarming. All of it was good reading.

I cannot possibly explain just how much and why I adored this book. If you haven’t thought of reading it, I strongly encourage you to give it a try. If (like me) you’ve been thinking of reading it but haven’t yet go get it and read it sooner rather than later. It’s not too late to join in the discussion at the Classic Reads Book site. We’ll be discussing it for a while.

Rating 5/5


Mary 2/12/2010 4:03 AM  

It's on my All-time Favorites List. Glad you liked it too.

Cathy 2/12/2010 4:25 AM  

I read this book years ago and at the precise time that I needed desperately to read it. It became one of those "life changing" books to me, and I will always love it.

rhapsodyinbooks 2/12/2010 5:59 AM  

You really remind me that I must return to Steinbeck. I loved him back when I read him in high school, but that was so long ago, and I can't remember much except how much I loved his books!

hopeinbrazil 2/13/2010 6:26 AM  

Great review! This has been on my mental TBR list for a few years, but now it may actually get checked out from the library. =)

Dana 2/13/2010 8:07 AM  

I love this book (Steinbeck is one of my favorite authors) - glad to hear you enjoyed it! Great review!

Jennifer @ Mrs. Q: Book Addict 2/13/2010 2:58 PM  

I love Steinbeck, I still have a few of his novels to read but his writing is beautiful. I read East of Eden a few years ago, and really loved it. I think I should reread it at some point.

Wendy 2/13/2010 4:29 PM  

Great review, Suzi...this was also a five star book for me too :)

Bookfool 2/14/2010 7:57 PM  

I love Steinbeck. Where did I hear you loved this? Twitter? I dug around and located my copy, so it's in the piles closest to my reading spot, now. I need to read the next book in your Classics Book Club, too -- same thing; I have a copy, but I haven't gotten to it, yet.

Les 2/16/2010 7:09 PM  

OK! I've got this one and will read it this summer. I loved The Grapes of Wrath for all the same reasons you mentioned here. Man, it's been over 30 years since I read that book in my freshman year of high school. Eeek!

SuziQoregon 2/16/2010 9:01 PM  

Mary: I loved it. I know it's on lots of folks all time favorites list and now I know why.

Cathy: Isn't it great when the right book lands in your hands just when you need it? Love to hear stories about fateful reading.

Rhapsodyinbooks: The only other Steinbeck I've read is Of Mice and Men way back in high school. I definitely want to read more of his work now.

HopeinBrazil: Oh I definitely recommend that you move it up the list. It's well worth the time investment to read.

Dana: I must read more Steinbeck.

Jennifer: I can see where a re-read of this a few years down the road may be in my future.

Wendy: Yay - another fan!
Bookfool: Yeah - I think you heard me gushing about this one on Twitter all the way through.

Les: Oh good! I think you'll really enjoy this one.

Brad Wirz 9/06/2011 6:39 AM  

Hey Suzi, thanks for the great review! I hope you don't mind that I just linked to it in our latest blogpost. Happy reading...

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