East of Eden – Book Review

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.

Buy this book from:
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound

This review was done with a book received from my friend Eric, who bought it for me in college for Christmas or my birthday after I destroyed my original copy with too many readings.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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17 comments to East of Eden – Book Review

  • I am a huge Steinbeck fan! I’ve this one a couple of times over the years. How lucky that several of you get to read this for the first time!

  • My favorite Steinbeck novel – it’s on my keeper shelf! Glad you liked it too.

  • I am a fan of Steinbeck but the length of East of Eden always put me off. After hearing about the read-a-thon, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to cast my fears aside. I have about 50 pages left in my current book so tonight, once that is finished, I will be starting on the first section of EoE. Can’t wait!
    .-= Stephanie´s last blog ..Mailbox Monday =-.

  • I love love love Steinbeck – The Grapes of Wrath is my favorite book of all time. Your review reminded me of why I love his wonderful writing style and powerful books. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to reread East of Eden for the Classic Reads Book Club, as I have a ton of other books in my TBR pile, but your review made me want to pick it up again! Thanks!

  • Ti

    This is my favorite Steinbeck novel. I love the whole good vs. evil theme.

  • It’s such a good book. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  • I haven’t read this and you’ve really made me feel like I’ve missed something fantastic! I’m adding it to my wish list.

  • Oh, man, how I love this book. I read it for the first time last summer and can see it becoming one of those books that I revisit on a yearly basis.
    .-= A Bookshelf Monstrosity´s last blog ..Books By Theme: Doctor as Author =-.

  • I’m not going to get around to re-reading this for the Classics Book Club (too many other book commitments), but I wish I had time. It’s my favorite Steinbeck, and on my short list of unchanging all-time favorite books.
    .-= Florinda´s last blog ..Book talk: *When Everything Changed*, by Gail Collins =-.

  • I was amazed by how fast I read this, especially considering its length. I wasn’t expecting it to be so good.

  • I’ve not read this either, and I know I’m missing out. I’m not intimidated by it, I know I would like it, so I don’t really have a good excuse. Lack of time I guess. I need to make it a priority.
    .-= Sandy´s last blog ..Monday Movie Meme – Token of Appreciation =-.

  • Amanda

    I haven’t read any Steinback, but as he’s a favourite author of my boss (!),’The Grapes of Wrath’is on my current To Be Read list. I must admit, that the heavy Biblical themes in ‘East of Eden’ which are mentioned in the post scare me off – however, the glowing reviews given by comments above make me think that I really should read this book. Not sure… perhaps I need some more convincing.

  • I have read this book three times. In 8th grade.. yes a lot was lost. Then in 2002 and in 2007. Each time I have read it, it has had a profound and wonderful effect on me. I was lucky to visit the Steinbeck museum. There is the coolest diagram on the wall showing where Kate would have walked. I have been to the Steinbeck family home and grave. LOVE Steinbeck. Nice review.

  • This is one of my all time favorites as well – I can’t wait to follow along w/ the discussion at the Classics blog.
    .-= Heather J.´s last blog ..Kiddo in the news =-.

  • I’m so glad you love this one! I’ve never read it, and just finished Part I yesterday. I’m really enjoying it so far.
    .-= S. Krishna´s last blog ..The Kingdom of Ohio – Matthew Flaming =-.

  • I so adore Steinbeck! Grapes of Wrath is my favorite but East of Eden runs a close second.

  • Timshel back at you! This is my husband’s favourite book and I finally read it a couple of years ago. I’d always been intimidated by the size and the Steinbeckness of it, but oh!! I agree with everything you’ve said, it’s utterly amazing.