Originally published July 2010 on another site….
I’m going to say right now that this book is nowhere near as amazing as The Grapes of Wrath. I liked it, but it didn’t make me think in any way. I realize GoW is long, and oddly written, and a bit dull at times, and super depressing, but I could not stop reading waiting to see what happened to the Joad family. Couldn’t stop. And the ending….woah. East of Eden was just the opposite.
The story spans 60 some odd years and literally just tells the story of two families, more one than the other. A modernish story about Cain and Abel where one brother constantly battles and defeats the other, there are two sets of brothers in this book, always starting with the letters C and A. It was always interesting to read how the brothers would fare in their love/hate relationship, but I kept reading knowing one was going to win. How that win happened, was usually a mystery. The best part of the story was a C winning, but instead of a brother, it was a woman named Cathy, who was married to an A brother. She was simply an evil person. I liked her parts of the story best…what does that say about me?? It’s just so rare to have a woman of that caliber of evil in a book written in the 1950s. It’s hard to cheer for Cathy, but you want to keep reading to see what else she will do.
The lonely, whiny lost brother story just didn’t appeal to me. Cathy abandons her A husband and leaves him to raise twin boys….Cal and Aron. Again, the cycle starts over. Interesting characters, but really, over the course of time, not much happens. This book was all character and very little plot. I just thought it would have been more interesting. You want Steinbeck, read Grapes of Wrath. He won the Pulitzer for that book for a reason.