East of Eden by John Steinbeck

“Yeah….but he’s a bit, well…..evangelical, isn’t he?” So said an acquaintance of mine from many years’ ago when we were discussing John Steinbeck. It was probably this book he was thinking of.

It is a family saga set in California. I am sure the title is a biblical reference, as the book resounds with them, some of them remarkably clumsy. Someone refuses someone else 3 times, for example and 2 of the main characters, brothers who have a difficult relationship, are called Caleb and Aron. Indeed, the Cain and Abel story figures elsewhere in the plot.

The characters are a bit two-dimensional, I am afraid, especially Lee, the Chinese character who is endowed with a bit too much Oriental wisdom and serenity.

A good story, well told. But I found it too unsubtle, which was a disappointment, as I love John Steinbeck.

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