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Publisher's Summary

Set in familiar Steinbeck territory, To a God Unknown is a mystical tale, exploring one man's attempt to control the forces of nature and, ultimately, to understand the ways of God.

©2012 Penguin Audio (P)1933 John Steinbeck

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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Performance

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Michael
  • Walnut Creek, CA, United States
  • 04-28-13

My Favorite Steinbeck; Terrible and Beautiful

I love Steinbeck and this has, for many years, been my favorite and was not available on Audible until recently. This early Steinbeck has exceptional writing and numerous elements appearing in his later works, in a pure, condensed, and powerful form. This novel has potent mystical imagery which might not sit well with some religious folks. Perhaps that is why this novel does not get the attention I think it deserves. The excellently narration complements the intensely beautiful and terrible writing. Like the Grapes of Wrath, this is an intense read without a lot of fun but with a thoughtful concentrated unflinching examination of life and death.

40 of 40 people found this review helpful

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  • Jessica
  • MACON, GA, United States
  • 10-08-13

Classic and Amazing

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

This book is so good, and the narrator's voice matches the idea of the characters and setting perfectly. Such a good listen. :)

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Early Steinbeck and Good Narrator

I've recently read and listened to most of Steinbeck's major works, and now want to work through his lesser known works.

To a God Unknown was a good story. The subject matter and themes were interesting to me, so that probably helped my appreciation of it all. While this book definitely isn't as good as his other pieces, it was interesting to see all the hints of things to come.

Jonathan Davis did a very good job as the narrator. Very professional and he suited the material very well.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 05-27-13

Interesting minor, early Steinbeck novel

An early Steinbeck filled with amazing biblical, pagan, and Greek images. The novel essentially relates the relationship between Joseph and his homesteading out West with his family. It is a story of four brothers who move from the East (Vermont) to the West (California) to homestead the land. Joseph Wayne isn't the oldest, but he is the leader/patriarch of the brothers ever since their dying father gave him his blessing (hints at Isaac’s blessing on Jacob). Joseph is convinced that his father's spirit abides in a large oak tree on his farm. He communes, talks, seeks advice and sacrifices to the Oak.

It isn't my favorite Steinbeck, but there were parts that were amazing and powerful.

20 of 23 people found this review helpful

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Great performance, very good story

Where does To a God Unknown rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

A very well narrated audiobook. Solid performance!

What other book might you compare To a God Unknown to and why?

Compared to other works by John Steinbeck I'd say this one is a bit less compelling.

Definitely a good read, full of symbolism in the good old-fashioned and thought provoking Steinbeck style, but (to me) it still ranks below his other works.

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

Although I occasionally disagreed with the narrator's interpretation of the tone, he brought a very credible rendition of the characters' voices, accents and feelings throughout most of the story.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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I just like Steinbeck's writings

Let's remember we are ourselves the source of everything. Religion of mortals is of no use to an intelligent human being.

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  • Story

The complexity of identification and identity exposed

As in East of Eden and The Winter of Our Discontent, Steinbeck reveals the complexity of identity and identification. With Joseph becoming the land his inevitable reality is laid bare with devastating clarity.

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Very, very slow... pacing is terrible

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

The description and dialogue are pretty decent, but the book is really, really slow. You deserve an award if you can finish it.

Has To a God Unknown turned you off from other books in this genre?

Pacing... it just really dragged. You can tell that Steinbeck had trouble finishing it.

Which scene was your favorite?

Spoiler alert!The main character finding out his brother had cut the roots off the tree. Outside of that, everything else was predictable.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from To a God Unknown?

I'm not sure outside of scrapping it completely. It needs to be about 1/4 of its current size. There is just so much unnecessary content between the conflict. You are constantly wondering when it will pick up again.

Any additional comments?

Skip it.

If this didn't have John Steinbeck's name on it, it would have an average score of 1-2.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • jaye
  • GREENWICH, CT, United States
  • 01-10-15

OK BOOK NOT UP TO STEINBECK'S STANDARDS.

Is there anything you would change about this book?

YES. I WOULD HAVE NOT LEFT READER HANGING. WHAT HAPPENED TO HIS SON? WHAT HAPPENED TO HIS FAMILY?

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

IT WAS NOT SLAM BAM ENDING. IT WAS OK.

Which character – as performed by Jonathan Davis – was your favorite?

JUANITO

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

NO

Any additional comments?

WHY WAS IT SO DISJOINTED? I HAVE LOVED HIS WORKS BUT THIS ONE IS A DISAPPOINTMENT.

1 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Rachel
  • Marion, IN, United States
  • 02-23-14

Meh

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

This was not one of the easier Steinbeck novels to read, I prefer some of his other works

What didn’t you like about Jonathan Davis’s performance?

Davis' voice is difficult for me to follow, making it difficult to pay attention through the novel.I should have listened to a sample before purchasing.

Was To a God Unknown worth the listening time?

Not with this reader- and maybe no anyways.

0 of 4 people found this review helpful