Friday, July 16, 2010

July 2010 Book Club Meeting

Summary: In his journal, John Steinbeck called East of Eden “the first book,” and indeed it has the primordial power and simplicity of myth. Set in the rich farmland of California’s Salinas Valley, this sprawling and often brutal novel follows the intertwined destinies of two families—the Trasks and the Hamiltons—whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel.

Adam Trask came to California from the East to farm and raise his family on the new, rich land. But the birth of his twins, Cal and Aron, brings his wife to the brink of madness, and Adam is left alone to raise his boys to manhood. One boy thrives, nurtured by the love of all those around him; the other grows up in loneliness, enveloped by a mysterious darkness.

First published in 1952, East of Eden is the work in which Steinbeck created his most mesmerizing characters and explored his most enduring themes: the mystery of identity, the inexplicability of love, and the murderous consequences of love’s absence. A masterpiece of Steinbeck’s later years, East of Eden is a powerful and vastly ambitious novel that is at once a family saga and a modern retelling of the Book of Genesis. -- Penguin

For this month's meeting, we read the last two sections of the classic novel EAST OF EDEN by John Steinbeck. If you recall, we read the first two sections for our June meeting. I actually wish that we had just read the entire book in one month (even though it was a chunkster) and discussed it that way rather than breaking it up. I set the book down after our last meeting and when I picked it back up, I had kind of lost my momentum with it.

Having said that, I think we all agreed that EAST OF EDEN was a fabulous read and a great book to discuss. Truly, there is so much to discuss from the characters, to the universal life themes, to the symbolism. I just loved it and I think every book club should give one a try!

Even though we did have a pretty thorough discussion, a few of us are still thinking about the book. There are emails going back and forth rehashing our discussion and even some which are bringing up entirely new issues. I think that we are still talking about the books days after our meeting speaks to the power of EAST OF EDEN!

Next month, we will be reading THE CROWNING GLORY OF CALLA LILY PONDER by Rebecca Wells. We got the idea for this novel when Book Club Girl had a contest giving book clubs the chance to win a King Cake for their meeting. We were one of the 25 lucky clubs that won! I( think I just slipped in as the last group!)

I am looking forward to reading THE CROWNING GLORY OF CALLA LILY PONDER (and trying some King Cake!) I have enjoyed all of Ms. Wells' other novels and I'm sure this one will be no exception.

Summary: In the small river town of La Luna, Louisiana, Calla Lily Ponder bursts into being, a force of nature as luminous as the flower she is named for. Under the loving light of the Moon Lady, the feminine force that will guide and protect her throughout her life, Calla enjoys a blissful childhood—until it is tragically cut short. From her mother, Calla learns compassion and healing through the humble womanly art of "fixing hair." On the banks of the La Luna River, she discovers a sweet, succulent first love that is as enticing as the music, food, and dancing of her Louisiana home. When heartbreak hits, Calla leaves the familiarity of her hometown and heads downriver to the untamed city of New Orleans, where her destiny further unfolds.

The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder is the story of a pink-collar heroine whose willingness to remain vulnerable in the face of adversity opens our own hearts to the possibility of love growing from sorrow. -- Harper


Jo-Jo said...

I read this book quite a few years ago now but I do remember how much a loved it. How lucky you are to have been able to discuss it with your book group too. Sounds like you had a great discussion!

bermudaonion said...

I know I really need to make the time to read East of Eden - it sounds like a book that's almost better read with a friend. The King Cake sounds like lots of fun!

Alyce said...

I have shied away from Steinbeck novels ever since reading Of Mice and Men which was just too sad and crushing. I read it as a teenager and looking back I have to realize that if it affected me that deeply (I was totally horrified by it) that it was well written. I just haven't been able to convince myself to try another Steinbeck book yet.

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

This was the first book my book club read, back when most of the other girls weren't really readers. We read a few chapters each week during that summer and met for happy hour very Tuesday night to discuss what we'd read. It was a wonderful experience! That said, I don't know that it would work quite as well if everyone in the group was a reader ...