East of Eden–part 1

Generally, I would refrain from posting about a book when I haven’t finished it.  However, since The Classics Read Book Club divides books quarterly, I am going to do the same and just post a review with each section/discussion.

Discussion for the first section (Chapters 1-11) begins today, so for those of you that have started the book, head on over to join the discussion.  For anyone who is interested in joining us, here is the discussion schedule:

January 25th – Section 1 (Chapters 1-11)
February 8th – Section 2 (Chapters 12-22)
February 22nd – Section 3 (Chapters 23-33)
March 8th – Section 4 (Chapters 34 – end)

East of Eden is the perfect book to spread out over a period of time because it is LONG.  If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you may know by now that I am intimidated by longer books.  It is that reason alone that I have yet to tackle Anna Karenina.  Likewise, if East of Eden hadn’t been chosen for the book club, it likely would have languished on my shelves for a few years longer.  It’s unfortunate, because EoE so far is quite an engaging read!

So far, the text isn’t very cohesive.  It’s one of those books that, as you’re reading, you can’t quite piece together.  The hope is that it will all start to make sense, but it’s impossible to tell when that will occur.  First you’ve got Samuel and Liza Hamilton settling in the Salinas valley with their nine children.  Then you have Adam Trask and his brother Charles.  We are given a glimpse into their life growing up.

Finally, we have Cathy Ames, my favorite character so far.  She seems to have no redeeming qualities, but her story is so interesting and engaging that I looked forward to the sections about her the most.  At this point, little is known about what is driving Cathy as a character.  She makes some really destructible choices that are equally shocking.  I kept reading on in the hopes that I could get a picture of why she behaves the way she does.

The end of section 1 leaves a lot of questions.  Cathy had been beaten severely after manipulating Mr Edwards, who runs a prositution ring.  She crawls to Adam and Charles’ doorway, half dead, and is rescued by them.  Charles is immediately suspicious of Cathy’s nature, whereas Adam is completely enamored by her.  Adam ends up marrying Cathy, however she continues to use her manipulations, as she had with Mr Edwards, and instead secretly turns to Charles.

So now I have to know what is going on!  I put down EoE after section 1 ended so that I could discuss the first section without having my perceptions colored by reading on in the book.  I’ll probably start on section 2 next week.  Are you reading EoE for the book club?  If so, what are your thoughts so far?

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6 Responses

  1. I haven’t started yet because my copy was in the US, but now I am home for a visit and fully intend to bring it back with me and join in. Glad you are enjoying it so far, even if it isn’t too cohesive!

  2. I read it years ago and I planned on joining the book club but have yet to start it! Probably by next weekend. Interesting you say Cathy is your favorite, because I’d have to agree she has no redeeming qualities….

  3. I can’t imagine reading this book over a couple months. When I picked it up and didn’t have any other books going on, I got engrossed & it took about 2 weeks to read. I had posts scheduled all that time because I had gotten ahead of myself in reading, so I didn’t worry too much, and i really loved EAst of Eden.

  4. This is my favorite John Steinbeck book…really, completely satisfying 🙂

  5. You have more will power than I do! I couldn’t put it down, and like Amanda, finished it quickly.

  6. […] East of Eden, Part III Posted on February 22, 2010 by reviewsbylola Review of Part I […]

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