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The Pearl | [John Steinbeck]

The Pearl

In this short book illuminated by a deep understanding and love of humanity, John Steinbeck retells an old Mexican folk tale: the story of the great pearl, how it was found, and how it was lost. For the diver Kino, finding a magnificent pearl means the promise of a better life for his impoverished family. His dream blinds him to the greed and suspicions the pearl arouses in him and his neighbors, and even his loving wife cannot temper his obsession or stem the events leading to the tragedy. For Steinbeck, Kino and his wife illustrate the fall from innocence of people who believe that wealth erases all problems.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Of John Steinbeck's many classic novels, only one is beloved by ninth graders everywhere. Finally in a definitive audiobook edition, The Pearl as read by Hector Elizondo is a long overdue treat for listeners of all ages. Whether you skipped this required reading in high school or simply don't remember much about it, now is the time to revisit Steinbeck's excellent little vision of an ancient Mexican folk tale about the perils of obsessive greed. A story of great symbolism and unflinching morality, the lessons here are no less true in our contemporary circumstances than they were hundreds of years ago.

Hector Elizondo is a perfect fit for this narration. Winner of an Emmy and an Obie, veteran of both screen and stage, Elizondo is no stranger to the gravitas of parables. Although he has contributed voice work to a dozen audiobook dramas with ensemble casts, this is the first time he has narrated a book completely on his own. What a treat to hear his familiar grizzled voice painting the scene of a tiny, impoverished town in need of a miracle. When a scorpion bites a young family man's infant son, the man becomes desperate for money to pay the doctor that can save the child's life.

Upon finding an enormous pearl deep in the water and just in the nick of time, the family begins to dream of their son's bright future. Elizondo puts his grit and gravel to good use conveying the tenacity with which the family clings to the idea of sending their son to school, thus escaping their meager life of poverty. But the enchanting music of the pearl speaks to the whole town, and soon all are clamoring for a piece of the family's good fortune. Hector Elizondo impeccably renders John Steinbeck's haunting admonition against avarice, and this short novel is a must-have for any audio library. —Megan Volpert

Publisher's Summary

In this short book illuminated by a deep understanding and love of humanity, John Steinbeck retells an old Mexican folk tale: the story of the great pearl, how it was found, and how it was lost. For the diver Kino, finding a magnificent pearl means the promise of a better life for his impoverished family. His dream blinds him to the greed and suspicions the pearl arouses in him and his neighbors, and even his loving wife cannot temper his obsession or stem the events leading to the tragedy.

For Steinbeck, Kino and his wife illustrate the fall from innocence of people who believe that wealth erases all problems. Originally published in 1947, The Pearl shows why Steinbeck’s style has made him one of the most beloved American writers: it is a simple story of simple people, recounted with the warmth and sincerity and unrivaled craftsmanship Steinbeck brings to his writing. It is tragedy in the great tradition, beautifully conveying not despair but hope for mankind.

©1945, 1973 Elaine Steinbeck, John Steinbeck IV, Thom Steinbeck (P)2011 Penguin Audio

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (140 )
5 star
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4.5 (122 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Chris Baldwin Atlanta, GA 05-16-14
    Chris Baldwin Atlanta, GA 05-16-14 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Extremely poignant; incredible listen."
    Where does The Pearl rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    In my top 5.


    What other book might you compare The Pearl to and why?

    Comparable to "Of Mice and Men" in length... but faster, more intense, more gripping.


    What about Hector Elizondo’s performance did you like?

    Perfect voice & narration for this story -- low and under-produced, yet mysterious, quick, and forceful... great complement to The Pearl.


    Any additional comments?

    I generally like to get a lot of audio hours for my credit... so I wasn't sure it'd be worth it to purchase a book that was 2 hours and change. I was wrong. Gripping book... listens much like a thriller. Classic Steinbeck. The same way "East of Eden" navigates the unspoken rhythms of brothers and fathers, "The Pearl" spotlights the same between husbands and wives... though in a more succinct, more frenetic manner. Riveting listen.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    karen Hamilton, Ontario, Canada 08-25-13
    karen Hamilton, Ontario, Canada 08-25-13

    Eclectic tastes. Love anything thought provoking. Especially if its blended with some from of humour.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Steinbeck."
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Pearl to be better than the print version?

    Not really


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    This book is so not about a favourite character. It is about needs and choices.


    Have you listened to any of Hector Elizondo’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I have not heard Hector before. His reading here is perfect


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Sure. Not a long book


    Any additional comments?

    Beautiful description of the characters and the dilemmas they face. So Steinbeck

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Columbus, Ohio,USA 03-01-14
    Amazon Customer Columbus, Ohio,USA 03-01-14 Member Since 2012

    I work a lot. I can listen to books while I work. My new hobby. Thank God I can multi-task!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "loved it!"
    Where does The Pearl rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    The 2nd best. I had read it years ago. Enjoyed then and now as well. Great listening!


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Juana. She seemed to have the balanced insight into their dilemma.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    When they were frighten awaiting for the trackers under the bush in their escape. That scene had always stuck to my mind.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Their return home, certainly.


    Any additional comments?

    Will recommend to anyone.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan 01-10-14
    Ryan 01-10-14

    I have an english degree from the University of Wisconsin River-Falls (UWRF). I read, write, and listen to stories daily.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    "Good Storytelling at its Best"

    The Pearl examines what happens to Man once he's received his hearts desire. I think Steinbeck was a little hung up on this idea (it provides a thematic material for his novel The Winter of Our Discontent). The Pearl also shows how hard it is for an individual man to fight an institution (much like chapter five of The Grapes of Wrath). Hector Elizondo performs flawlessly, an excellent voice for Steinbecks' words. If you're familiar with Steinbeck, then there is great comparison and contrast value here.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    FanB14 10-26-13
    FanB14 10-26-13

    Short, Simple, No Spoilers

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Greed or Hope?"

    After reading in the 80s and now again to help my daughter with her homework, I view this book differently. I appreciate Steinbeck's straightforward, succinct writing style using the man versus nature theme here and everywhere.

    Kino and Juana search desperatly for a way to save their child and the pearl seems like a benevolent gift from nature. The townspeople, doctor, and traders become envious and attempt to cheat and/or steal from Kino as he seeks to obtain a fair price and better his family's situation.

    Artfully written, "The Pearl" set the precedent for many stories and movie plots to follow (watch, "A Simple Plan" if you enjoyed this book). My current take sides with Kino's hope to improve his station in life and I don't believe he's greedy to do so. If you haven't read this classic, the ending is tragic and satisfying provoking you to question your and others' motives. Could listen to this one again and again and probably will.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura Lepanto, AR, United States 03-21-13
    Laura Lepanto, AR, United States 03-21-13 Member Since 2012
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    2
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    "A classic brought to life"
    Where does The Pearl rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This narrator does a great job of bringing this classic novella to life.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    This book starts out fairly slowly... once you make it to the third chapter, you should be able to listen to to the end.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bobby Brown (Builda) Newark, NJ, United States 03-01-13
    Bobby Brown (Builda) Newark, NJ, United States 03-01-13

    B.Brown

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Movie of the mind"
    Would you listen to The Pearl again? Why?

    Yes I would. This is a wonderful book that intrigues curious readers like myself. Regardless of how many time you listen to it, it give this feeling of suspense, persuading you to listen more and watch the scenes in your mind. This is a perfectly written and narrated book.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Pearl?

    The most memorable moments of this book are the scenes with the songs and their meaning. The song of evil, Family, etc..


    What does Hector Elizondo bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Hector makes the story come to life. He reads in such a way that he paints a picture of all that occurs in the story. I must also give credit to John Steinbeck, who articulated such wonderful scenarios, of joy, hate, lust, love, fear, dream, envy, just to name a few. This well written book, along the with the inspiring vocals of Hector Elizondo, make The Pearl a wonderful audiobook.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Well to be honest, it made me a little sad at times, but mostly depressed. I must also point out that the books provide a sense of hope, willingness to strive for what you want. It give a perfect illustration of what determination is and how far people may go to achieve what they desire. Both in Kino's case, where he wishes to fulfill his dreams, regardless of the obstacles. As well as the thieves, whom, no matter what, will stop at nothing until the get the their hands on the great pearl.


    Any additional comments?

    Great Book

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathryn Atkins Southern California 12-06-12
    Kathryn Atkins Southern California 12-06-12 Member Since 2011

    Let me write for you!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    "Short and Powerful"
    Where does The Pearl rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Steinbeck's words brought me to the scene, let me walk in his characters' shoes, helped me understand love, hate, anger (no make that rage), and the timelessness and humanity in all of them. Elizondo's narration added to the poignancy. I'd put this as one of my favorites.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim "The Impatient" Springfield, MO, United States 10-31-11
    Jim "The Impatient" Springfield, MO, United States 10-31-11 Member Since 2010

    I will listen to NO boring book. Old Fav's,Card, King , Hobb. New Fav's, Hill, Scalzi, Sawyer, Interested in Lansdale, Crouch, Konrath

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Stay poor"

    I am a fan of JS, but not of this book. I like JS style of writing and how he writes about the down trodden of society. In this story we have a couple who are so poor, they live in a straw hut, often go hungry and can't afford medicine for there child. In the beginning their child gets stung by a scorpion, but the doctor will not help, because they do not have money. The same day they find a pearl the size of a goose egg. It should be worth lots of money, but collecting the money is not that easy. The pearl brings them an unimaginable amount of bad luck. The story is extremely depressing and irritating. JS's message seems to be that if you are dirt poor, you should stay that way and not try to better yourself. If you have not read JS, I would suggest you start with Cannery Row.

    2 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeff Pickering, Ontario, Canada 08-28-13
    Jeff Pickering, Ontario, Canada 08-28-13 Member Since 2007

    50yrs old / audible member for 5 yrs library. 75% nonfiction, 15% classics and 10% fiction. History/Science/biography/Eng.18th cent fiction

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "OVER-RATED"

    Why is this little story rated so high? for me it was a predictable reasonably written little story. Unfortunately that's all I can say about it.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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