Shocking and controversial when it was first published, Steinbeck's Pulitzer prize-winning epic remains his undisputed masterpiece.
Set against the background of Dust Bowl Oklahoma and Californian migrant life, it tells of the Joad family, who, like thousands of others, are forced to travel west in search of the promised land. Their story is one of false hopes, thwarted desires, and broken dreams, yet out of their suffering Steinbeck created a drama that is intensely human, yet majestic in its scale and moral vision; an eloquent tribute to the endurance and dignity of the human spirit.
©1939 John Steinbeck (P)2010 Hachette Digital
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"Moving, troubling, beautiful."
I opted for this to help me catch up on some of the classics and was not disappointed. I was totally drawn in, both to the historical coverage as well as to the characters, feeling I was journeying with them, geographically as well as emotionally. Loved it and will listen again in a few years.
"As relevant today as the day it was written"
Heartbreaking and heartwarming in equal measure, as the Joad's meet seemingly endless adversity with compassion courage and generosity. I often wondered how it would be possible for Steinbeck to create an conclusion to this tale. The final moments will haunt my thoughts for some time to come.
"Amazing story telling"
the narrator was brilliant, he has a great range of voices that were distinctly unique.
"So glad I've finally read this!"
Wow, this book was wonderful. There are so many layers to peel and themes and imagery to discuss - I felt like I wanted to write an essay on it all when I had finished. Didn't manage that though, but keep having to discuss things with my friend who also read it as I just can't get it out of my head! It's not what I would call uplifting, but it does get you thinking. The narrator is one of the best I have ever listened to and his character voices are superb.
"One of the great 20th century novels"
The Grapes of Wrath is one of the most famous, most highly regarded and most widely read American novel of the twentieth Century. Steinbeck's Nobel prize for literature is due in large part to it.
For once I agree with the publisher's hyperbole: "Their story is one of false hopes, thwarted desires and powerlessness, yet out of their struggle Steinbeck created a drama that is both intensely human and majestic in its scale and moral vision.". There is not much one can add to the heaps of justified praise the book has already received but I have a couple of comments which I hope will be helpful.
It is an overtly anti-capitalist book, describing the plight of starving itinerant unemployed during the great depression of the 1930s. If you are interested in this subject I would recommend How Green was my Valley, describing the life of Welsh miners, and No Mean City, describing life in the Glasgow tenements. Both are good novels and, like Grapes of Wrath, describe the unjust treatment of the undertrodden and the rugged honesty with which they do their best to cope.
I put off reading Grapes of Wrath for many years because I knew it was about injustice and misery and it didn't sound very enjoyable. Also when lots of people tell me a book is brilliant it often fails to live up to my expectations. This one surpassed them. I was really gripped by the realistic, accurate portrayal of humanity.
It is actually a novel punctuated every 2-3 chapters with a vignette or essay about the causes and consequences of the depression. I hesitate to say anything against such an important book but I found some of the intermittent essays little more than a rant. They appeared to analyse the causes but offered little insight. My feeling was that the author had a deep insight into the people but little understanding of economics.
What a story of humanity vs inhumanity! I'm not sure about the ending but I loved the rest of it too much for this to taint my overall view.
An extraordinarily powerful reading by John Chancer. Utterly compelling. Cannot recommend it more highly. He manages to convey each character distinctly without ever appearing to put on 'voices'. Lifts the wonderful power of Steinbeck's dialogue off the page and places it in your brain. Particularly effective reading of the interstitial thematic chapters exploring the wider repercussions of the events of the time.
Just beautifully written and such an amazing journey described so well you feel it
Well read and easy to listen to
Hard to put down. Certainly a book you want to keep on listening to
The guy reading this is magnificent. A different voice for all of Steinbecks carachters.
It's the great American novel. The antithesis of Gatsby in terms of the section of society it captures, but is similar in its sadness and how it picks America apart.
Grandpa or the preacher. Brilliant performance.
Both. Reminded me of emigrating to find work and the hopes and fears I had on the road. The description of Al listening to the engine of the tired old truck and watching the dials hit me, as did the promise of great work and wages in the far off land.
I have revisited this book for the third time over a period of 40 years. Each time I had forgotten how harrowing and compelling this book is. It is Steinbeck at his best. The Joads, tenant farmers living in the dust bowl of Oklahoma, are thrown off their land during America's great depression and head west to California. Their harrowing journey takes them to the very brink of starvation and into complete destitution. Steinbeck compells the reader to travel every inch of the Joad's downward journey into sickness and squalor. However, Ma Joad attempts to hold the family together through determination and dignity. Her unswerving belief that the family will survive makes this book an inspirational lesson for us all.
This story allows the reader to emphasise with all of the characters, from the grandparents who in their old age are wrenched from their home to the Joad children who are one moment elated by the adventure of the journey and the next moment confused and distressed by the harshness of their new world.
Ma Joad holds the family together with dignity even though they have absolutely nothing. When they arrive at the government camp she insists that the whole family including the children and Rose of Sharon her eldest daughter wash and put on clean clothes to meet the women's committee at the camp. She sweeps the dirt floor outside the tent and presents herself to the women, newly bathed and in clean clothes as a gentile, proud, respectable wife and mother, even though the family have work, no money, no food and no hope.
The concluding chapter in the book is particularly moving. Without spoiling the ending, it can be said to be one of the finest conclusions ever written. Steinbeck uses biblical imagery and symbolism to portray a shimmer of hope in a ghastly cruel world.
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