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The Pearl Audiobook

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

4.3 (323 )
5 star
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4.3 (280 )
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4.4 (279 )
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Ryan 01-10-14
    Ryan 01-10-14 Member Since 2016

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

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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
  •  
    Laura Lepanto, AR, United States 03-21-13
    Laura Lepanto, AR, United States 03-21-13 Member Since 2012
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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

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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 2013

    Let me write for you!

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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 2015

    I am brutally honest. Popular, love everything they read, reviewers are scared to go neg. and risk their ranking. It's your money!!!

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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.

    3 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dan Harlow Fort Collins 11-29-15
    Dan Harlow Fort Collins 11-29-15 Member Since 2015
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    "The exploited poor"
    Any additional comments?

    Steinbeck's greatest achievement was to give voice to the poor. Steinbeck's critics could say he romanticized his subjects by making them all good souls who always had the high moral ground and earthy common sense, but so many of his subjects had been marginalized their whole lives that they were nearly invisible and so, I believe, deserving of a champion.

    Yet many of Steinbeck's stories end badly for the main characters, they are almost always defeated by the forces they hoped to struggle free from. For a time each character in a Steinbeck has hope for the future only to succumb to the cold reality that the rich and the powerful will remain rich and powerful and the poor will remain poor and exploited.

    Yet still he gave a voice to the poor and he showed his audience how difficult it was for the less fortunate to rise out of their situation, how desperate they could be to change their lives, and how terrible it was for them to fail. Steinbeck imparts on the reader a great empathy for his characters because it is vital for us to feel the pain of these people. This is why, I believe, Steinbeck's characters are almost always "good, honest people" because we believe ourselves to be people like his characters. And so when we see these characters struggle and fail we also struggle and fail and for a moment we empathize with these people.

    Had Steinbeck's characters been more like Tolstoy's, full of faults and failings and hubris, he would have been less successful to get us to actually feel the pain of poverty and hopelessness because we would have had an excuse to blame the characters for their failings. Yet when the characters are a sketch, when we see only the good and watch how the bad washes over them, we understand, if only a little, the plight of people who cannot escape from their situations.

    This was Steinbeck's greatest achievement: he got us to actually care about people we might otherwise never even notice. Steinbeck didn't need to create realistic characters like Tolstoy's because he knew his readers were full of faults and prejudices; his job was to get those very people to not be selfish for a few hundred pages and show them how our insensitivity to the less fortunate could be devastating.

    This story, like almost all of Steinbeck's stories could easily be updated to our own times with very few changes. Replace the pearl of the world with a lottery ticket, move the setting to an inner city or desperate country, and the truths would still be the same: the poor will be taken advantage of by the powerful and any resistance on the part of the poor will be dealt harshly by the law, no matter the justification.

    And so when we ask ourselves "Why did Steinbeck never offer any solution to these problems", then we should look in the mirror because he was actually asking us that question, he only gave us the tools to recognize there was even a problem to begin with.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeff Pickering, Ontario, Canada 08-28-13
    Jeff Pickering, Ontario, Canada 08-28-13 Member Since 2015

    54 yrs, ,memb 12yrs,library -75%nonfic 10% fiction,15% classics. History, all sciences, bio, classics,diverse other interests.

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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
  •  
    Charles Providence, RI, United States 05-28-12
    Charles Providence, RI, United States 05-28-12 Member Since 2015
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    "very moving story"

    Character development is wonderful. It is a very moving story with a very important message. It is a short story that will be read straight through. If you are a Steinbeck lover, this is a must read.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    jaye GREENWICH, CT, United States 10-10-12
    jaye GREENWICH, CT, United States 10-10-12 Member Since 2012

    AUDIBLE MAKES READING POSSIBLE AND EASY FOR ME...I AM VISUALLY IMPAIRED. I WISH THEY HAD ALL THE BOOKS I WANT I WOULD SNAP THEM UP!

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    "not steinbeck's best but still enjoyable"
    If you could sum up The Pearl in three words, what would they be?

    money brings out the worst in some peple.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    it was ok. not special but i did not feel cheated or unsatisfied.


    What about Hector Elizondo’s performance did you like?

    crisp voice. easy to listen to.


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

    yes, it was a very short book. in fact the shortest book i have read.


    Any additional comments?

    what will i do when i have read all of steinbeck's books?? i have lots of books to read right now, but none compare to steinbeck!

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful

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