East of Eden eReader by John Steinbeck
Click Here to Download the Book Set in the rich farmland of California’s Salinas Valley, this sprawling and often brutal novel follows the intertwined destinies of two families—the Trasks and the Hamiltons—whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel. Here Steinbeck created some of his most memorable characters and explored his most enduring themes: the mystery of identity; the inexplicability of love; and the murderous consequences of love’s absence.
Reviews Best book that I've read in a long time. I've read several Steinbeck novels, and I think this ties with Grapes of Wrath as the best. In my estimation, the combination of several characteristics creates a masterpiece: poignant symbolism, beautiful prose, believable characterization, a driving plot, and pearls of wisdom and insight. This one has it all, and I'm sad I had to miss the book club discussion! I love Samuel Hamilton, the creator, the visionary, the worker. I love Lee, another voice of reason and an unexpected source of wisdom. I abhor Cathy and her inherent evil, and Aron is almost as unlikeable with his pious goodness. The juxtaposition of such extremes is countered by the one thing they share: there is no motivation behind Cathy's evil or Aron's goodness. In contrast, Cal's struggle to find the middle ground--and his ultimate realization that he can choose--epitomizes the true nature of the human condition.
Best Book I have ever read. Finally, something beats A River Runs Through It. The story isn't as hard hitting as ARRTI, but it is much more beautiful, and that is saying something. It's hard to beat a line like, "I am haunted by waters." Yet time and time again, Steinbeck writes the most beautiful things to have ever stained a page. It's friggin awesome. I can see why people dislike this book. It doesn't tell a story like ARRTI, or 1984. It doesnt have a huge, sweeping, all encompassing ending. It does, however, have the most realistic characters I have ever read about. Most books, like Atlas Shrugged, have characters that couldn't and do not exist in real life. If you have read Atlas Shrugged, you know Rand disagrees, she says that the fact that her book was published proves that people like Rearden and Galt exist. I sure would like to know who the heck she is talking about. Most people, Rand included, have a character predominantly represent one emotion, or idea. Galt = Objectivism. Rearden = Stoic Capitalist etc. Galt and Rearden cannot exist in real life. Samuel Hamilton, Adam and Cal Trask, Lee... these people exist. And they exist in the book equally well; they are messed up in realistic ways, they are sweet in realistic ways. I don't know to to describe it. The book is haunting because of how real it is. Yet it is more than that. Countless times I was not only amazed that Steinbeck could capture what it really means to be human, but he does it effortlessly; in a few sentences (yes yes, the book is 600 pages!) he utters some of the truest and most hard-hitting tid-bits of advice I've ever read. I was blown away time and time again. Even if you dont love the book as I did, if you appreciate good writing and an incredibly powerful yet easy read, you will enjoy this book.
My favorite novels are the ones that can make me laugh, cry, smile, sneer, and/or nod in agreement. However, the best are those few that can make me do more. They are those where I find my sneering and crying comes when looking at myself.
For a while, I was not interested in reading Steinbeck. I found that his writing was high quality when I finished “Of Mice and Men”, but I also found that his stories and style did not interest me. Yet, I was told not to give up without reading “East of Eden”. After waiting for so long, I finally went to push through it, and, now, wish I had not waited so long. "East of Eden" is a beautiful book that without being a complete allegory is still very allegorical in style as well as its metaphors and symbolism. As the story develops one could become very frustrated with the way that its symbolism brings a repetitious style to the writing. The characters seem to each go through the same problems and errors as those early in the book. But this is what makes it what it is. What everyone sees at first (partly because it's directly mentioned in the book) is how the characters symbolize Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel, and others from Genesis. Yet, as I went further through the book, I found that it has a broader scope. The characters draw an amazing picture of good, evil, and what's stuck in the middle of that battle: us. Unlike many stories I've read or movies I've watched, in the end it is not about deciding if we are good or bad, but reminding us that we have a choice.
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