East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Oh, friends, have I told you how much I adore this book? It is my favorite, favorite, favorite book in the whole world. First you have Adam and Charles. Their father Cyrus claims to have been a hero of the Civil War and is extremely hard on the boys, somehow loving Adam more than Charles, though Charles loves him and Adam merely respects him. Charles is a mean man, too, which is not so good for Adam. Their story takes us through the first half of the book. In the second half, we follow Adam’s family and his twin sons, Aron and Cal after Adam moves to California.
I actually originally read this for a Bible Lit class (Bible as literature) in high school. Although this is clearly not the actual Bible, it includes multiple retellings of the story of Cain and Abel, and has lots and lots of Biblical themes. Perhaps you recognize a Biblical place in the title?
The themes are fantastic, and I love the plot, but one of my very favorite things about this book is the writing. Oh my gosh, this is Steinbeck at his absolute best, it is lyrical, evocative, gorgeous, and every other good word you can think of to talk about writing. Of course, there is a certain part of the book that surpasses even the beauty of the writing for me. I’ll just say timshel, I don’t want to spoil the discovery for those of you who haven’t read it yet.
And don’t forget, we will be reading this as a group as our first read over at the Classic Reads Book Club. Discussion of Section 1 starts next Monday, but there will be plenty of time to catch up if you haven’t started reading yet, we’re taking two weeks for each section.