I grew up knowing about John Steinbeck and his book The Grapes of Wrath as I am a daughter of an Okie (my father) and was born and raised in the San Joaquin Valley, just south of the Salinas Valley where East of Eden takes place. The movie, The Grapes of Wrath was filmed near Bakersfield where I lived for 30 years so that bit of trivia was always coming up in the media or newspapers. So I keep asking myself why did I never read Steinbeck? I loved the movies that were made and I've always known that any book you read is much better than the movie. East of Eden is one of the rare books I give a 5-star rating to. The story, being historical and dating back to the late 1800's, could have taken place in 2009. If references to mode of transportation, communication, and architecture were missing from the book the charachters could be your next door neighbor today. This book was wonderful with so many unique characters and the Cain and Abel aspect, and gives you pause to examine your own angels and demons. It's a big book but I read it in just a few days because I did not want to put it down. Off to another Steinbeck!
I read "East of Eden" over 30 years ago, and loved it. Now that I'm retired and have more time, I reread it and was not disappointed. What an epic, probably the best Steinbeck of them all. This book has many layers to it, so I think it is readable at all ages. While, I enjoyed it at 25, it was even better now!!
Simply the best book I've ever read. A big family saga, but so much more. Philosophy, religion, the American dream and so much more about small town life in 20th century California. All wrapped up in a retelling of the story of Adam and Eve. Plus just beautiful writing. I've read it at least three times and will read it again.
This is currently my favorite book that I have ever read. It's so captivating. It's a very long book, true, but it spans quite a bit of time. The plot is interesting but it is the characters that will make you unable to put this novel down. As I finished reading the last page, I found myself missing the wise words of Sam Hamilton and Lee. I cried and I laughed and loved every page. Makes you realize that the choices you make, make you the person you are. Timshel :)
East of Eden was originally published in 1952, and the setting for the novel is the late 19th and early 20th century. I still enjoyed reading East of Eden though, because there are timeless themes presented in this book. Sibling rivalry, guilt, and betrayal are some of the main themes in this book. It was ironic and interesting to read how 2 sets of brothers from different generations compete for the approval and love of their father.
Set in the rich California farmland of Salinas Valley, this sprawling and often brutel novel follows the intertwined destinies of 2 families, the Trasks and the Hamniiltons, whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Able.
"Timshel," thou mayest, sums this wonderful saga that follows three generations of the Trask and Hamilton families. Carl Sandburg called it, "A moving, crying pageant, with wilderness strengths." It is that and so much more. Steinbeck does an outstanding job of writing about the families including the good and the bad, the strengths and weaknesses, their successes and their failures. There are many bits of wisdom thrown into the tale. "Timshel" is uttered by Adam Trask as he lies paralyzed by a stroke. It was Samuel Hamilton's comment as well remembered so fondly by both Lee and Adam when the three discussed the story of Abel and Cain. Adam, Lee and Samuel are three of the most memorable and honorable characters. Cathy is memorable, too, but for the evil that she fosters on those who encounter her. Bits of wisdom come from Lee who observes that those who are good seem to reap little monetarily in life while those who are evil gain riches. The very humanness of the characters makes the book enjoyable. They live and die, they love and hate, they lie and steal, and they are just like us. If you read this saga, grab a copy of Steinbeck's Journal of a Novel to read at the same time. A great story.
As gripping today as when I read it in the 50's. An Oprah Book Club selection a few months back as well--good choice Oprah! The movie boasted a brilliant cast all of whom kept me mesmermized till the final scene.
This classic was read by our book club recently. What a wonderful discussion we had about the characters and times in California's Salinas Valley. It takes you through the saga of a family and a modern retelling of the Book of Genesis.
The book was wonderful. My mother was an "Okie", though most certainly not the stereotypical one. I was born in the SF bay area, raised in the Mojave Desert, 100 miles from Bakersfield, so all these locations were well known to me. I have read others of his books and don't know why it took me so long to get around to this one but it was great.
An epic novel set in the Salinas Valley of California written in 1952,
which traces the sometimes-intertwined lives of the Trask family and the Hamilton families. The Hamilton side was based on Steinbeck's family. The Trask side is an allegory based on the biblical story of Adam and Eve and their sons. Adam Trask's two sons, Cal and Aaron are loosely reminiscent of Cain and Abel.
The character study is stellar. Individuals struggle with good and evil within themselves and most grow as a result. "I have wondered why it is that some people are less affected and torn by the verities of life and death than other's." The intricacies of the relationships and the mesmirizing affect of one person on the other is masterful.
No wonder Steinbeck considered this his masterpiece.
I really liked this book. It spans a few generations of two families and is a page-turner. Very nice family story. Although a novel, it is mainly set in the author's birthplace/hometown. He is a character in the novel as a child but is the adult narrating the story in his own voice. This book is also a movie.
The best of the Steinbeck novels in my opinion. A beautiful saga about the life of two brothers, so different yet so connected. The writing is rich, complex, and captivating. A true literary classic in every sense.
This was a great book overall. John Steinbeck has a wonderful ability to describe things; makes you feel you are there seeing things with your own eyes. I enjoyed getting to know the characters and was saddened when they were not part of the story anymore (they went away or they died). There are some parts (just a few small ones) that dragged for me, as I am not a fan of war descriptions and this book has some of that toward the end. But overall, a great book. It's one of those books you wish didn't end.
I picked this book up with some trepidation, as his earlier works--Of Mice and Men, Grapes of Wrath--are not among my favorites. I was hugely and pleasantly surprised. This book spans the story of several generations of two families and explores broad and unfathomable themes--ultimate evil, sibling rivalry at extreme levels---and climaxes by having asked the unanswerable question of whether man indeed has a choice as to his nature. Truly a work of great literature with staying power, this is a powerful and engrossing read.
Classic book from the 50's and a symbolic recreation of the biblical story of Cain and Abel woven into a history of California's Salinas Valley. Spanning the period between the American Civil War and the end of World War I, the novel highlights the conflicts of two generations of brothers; the first being the kind, gentle Adam Trask and his wild brother Charles. Adam eventually marries Cathy Ames, an evil, manipulative, and beautiful prostitute; she betrays him, joining Charles on the very night of their wedding. Later, after giving birth to twin boys, she shoots Adam and leaves him to return to her former profession. In the shadow of this heritage Adam raises their sons, the fair-haired, winning, yet intractable Aron, and the dark, clever Caleb. This second generation of brothers vie for their father's approval. In bitterness Caleb reveals the truth about their mother to Aron, who then joins the army and is killed in France. --