30 April, 2011Daily Archives

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

Order from:
Reason for Reading:
  • This was our Read-Along book for April.

I also recommend:

Summary from GoodReads:

The masterpiece of one of the greatest American writers of all time. East of Eden is an epic tale of good vs. evil with many biblical references and parallels. The story is ultimately that of good’s triumph over evil and the human will’s ability to make that happen.

My Review:

Just hearing the name John Steinbeck used to give me pause.  I mean, it’s such a commanding sounding name and makes me think of stuffy scholars, ivy league education and gives me a feeling of inferiority because I have never read anything written by him.

So I figured it was about time.

East of Eden was picked for a read-along book for this past month and, to tell you the truth, I was dreading it.  I thought it would be a book that would bore me to pieces and that I’d have to struggle through each section and try to find something to talk about.  Instead, I found myself devouring each page and desperately wanting to continue on when each weeks assignment was finished.

Steinbeck’s descriptions, of landscapes, characters and situations are fascinating and thrilling.  I found myself not only re-reading sections of the book, but calling up friends and family to share passages – wishing the whole time that they knew the background that led up to those said passages.

Some of my favorites are these:

(When describing his mother)

“She had a dour Presbyterian mind and a code of morals that pinned down and beat the brains out of nearly everything that was pleasant to do.”

(At the beginning of Part 4)

We have only one story. All novels, all poetry, are built on the never-ending contest in ourselves of good and evil. And it occurs to me that evil must constantly respawn, while good, while virtue, is immortal. Vice has always a new fresh young face, while virtue is venerable as nothing else in the world is.

This last quote is a favorite of mine.   I wish I had words to describe how it makes me feel to read it, but I don’t.

East of Eden is a story about living your life in the manner in which people mourn your passing.  It touches on the evil in some, the struggle to be good in some and the innate goodness that dwells within others.  It explores decision and consequences, family relationships between spouses, brothers and sisters and friends.  It is an epic family drama that deserves the title of epic in spite of being subtle and slowly unfolding. The characters of the Hamiltons and Lee will always remain in my memory and be thought of fondly.  Cal and Aron, Charles and Adam – two sets of brothers so alike and so memorable each in their own way.

I could gush on and on about how much I loved this book but, as I said earlier, I just don’t have the words to adequately describe it all.  If you are at all intimidated, as I was, by just the name of Steinbeck, let me assure you that you are missing out by not reading this book.  I intend to fully explore his other works in the upcoming months and cannot wait to get to know him even more through them.

Check out these review(s):

Rebecca Reads

Bear