Book Club Report: East of Eden
The women in my book club really like John Steinbeck. I do too, but not so much this one. Out of eleven, there were only two of us with any negative comments. I really felt horrible about it, especially for the woman who had chosen this huge book for us to read.
The woman who chose the book has become a good friend so, of course, I had to back-peddle a bit and talk about what a wonderful writer John Steinbeck is and so forth. I’m not exaggerating. Nine women out of eleven LOVED East of Eden. Based on your comments to the First Paragraph of this book on Tuesday, I feel I need to sorry to most of you too.
So what’s wrong with me? I let my emotions dictate what I thought of the book. To me it was dark and depressing. It’s the story of two families and goes back two generations. The people weren’t very nice, although I believe it was quite realistic. Evidently, Steinbeck based the story on his own family. They definitely gave definition to the words disfunctional, demented, and evil.
If this was the story of Steinbeck’s family life, I really feel sorry for him. The way I understand it, the role of Kate was modeled after Steinbeck’s first wife. Kate was a horrible woman: she was mean, crazy, manipulative and self-centered. In the story she leaves her husband to start a bordellio. I wondered if that was Steinbeck’s way of getting even with a ex-wife.
I’ve read quite a few of Steinbeck’s novels over the years. He really is a wonderful writer and one of my favorites. I especially love the way he describes things. The first chapter of East of Eden is worth reading just for his description of the Salinas Valley. I’m eager to take a trip there and see it for myself. I understand there is an excellent Steinbeck museum there too.
I’ll always be grateful to East of Eden and Steinbeck for the words I’ve been looking for to explain what California poppies look like. They only grow here in California. I’ve tried explaining them to friends who live in the midwest. I’ve taken numerous pictures of them but it’s hard to convey their true beauty – until now. John Steinbeck got it right.
Those little golden gens are found everywhere here in the springtime. Thanks Mr. Steinbeck for loving them too and describing them so well. I’m sorry I didn’t love your semi-autobiographical novel. But – I’m still a big fan of yours.
Please don’t run away from East o Eden based on my experience. As I mentioned above, others had a much better experience. For those of you who have read the book, what did you think?