East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Publication Date: 1952
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.
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
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.