1.05.2011

Good Reads | East of Eden

East of Eden is one of John Steinbeck's masterpieces.  I read it for the first time about five years ago and have considered it one of my favorite books ever since.  I decided that, since I now live in Northern California and am familiar with all the places Steinbeck describes, I wanted to read it again from a new perspective and see if it's still favorite.  The verdict?  Definitely.

The tale is ultimately a parallel of the Cain and Abel story.  The ugliest of human natures - sibling rivalry, greed, murder - are woven through the story of Adam Trask.  The novel spans a time period from the American Civil War to World War I and depicts two different generations' struggles with their ability to conquer and control the good and evil within.  At first, it's difficult to follow Steinbeck's path.  He seems to jump from one character's story to the next.  But his craftsmanship prevails and the stories soon become one.  In a masterful way, he shows how all the characters are connected and how each story impacts the others.

The book is thick - well over 600 pages, depending on which version you pick up - but the story is so riveting you reach the end before you know it.  In fact, when I finished I had to resist the temptation to turn back and start over.
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