Wednesday, 28 February 2007


AUTHOR: John Steinbeck


DATE READ: January 2007

NOTES: I first read this book about 30 years ago but it was great to return to it again. A phenomenal achievement – telling the story of the Joad family as they struggle to survive in the depression of the thirties in US. There is hope and despair in the book but Steinbeck always ensures that the innate goodness of ordinary people shines through. Some wonderful characters: Ma who is determined to keep the family together, the fiery Tom who leaves to organize other workers, Rosasharn whose dreams of a happy future fall away but she nonetheless is prepared to give her mother’s milk to a starving man. And the picture of Casy is remarkable – a preacher no longer certain of his faith but who finds practical ways of putting others before himself.

Although the story is set some 70 years ago there are still many modern parallels. Some of the comments made about the Okies are echoed today in relation to immigrants. And big companies trying to reduce what they pay to their suppliers? Did someone mention Tesco?

Some chapters hardly move the narrative forward but instead offer Steinbeck’s reflections on the situation. These are little gems, beautifully written, and could be part of a book on political philosophy.

A triumph of a book – should be compulsory reading for everyone!

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