When I found out about the #1938 book club, I knew that this was something that I would love doing. Choosing a book was more difficult than I initially thought it would be – some I had already read, but there were several authors I had not read yet, and so thought now was as good a time as any to get around to them. I ended up buying Agatha Christie’s Appointment With Death (yes, you guessed right – I’ve never read Agatha Christie! *gasp*) and trying to buy Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock and John Steinbeck’s The Long Valley. The last two proved to be very elusive – I just didn’t have any luck finding them in my local bookstores.
However, my mom managed to find Steinbeck just as I was about to start on Christie, so I switched mental gears and went into the wild west to explore Americana instead of London to solve a murder. Borrowing her book, I embarked into book filled with short stories of a land that is sparse, beautiful, wild, free, and troubled.
For my first time reading Steinbeck, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. As I read through his stories, I had a vague feeling that I’d encountered him before. Of course I hadn’t, but his style reminded me of Hemingway, and his landscapes and strange stories echoed those of Willa Cather.
Delving into the first stories in the book, I was intrigued by the novelty of the plots and characters that Steinbeck had developed. I wasn’t really hooked into the stories, however, and felt more like an observer than a reader immersed into a story, where its emotions and plot twists become mine. I kept at it, however, and had made up my mind that this book was okay but maybe not really worth recommending – until I came to the last story: The Red Pony. Here I became an immersed reader, my emotions rising and falling, suspense building as I followed a little boy and his love for a red pony. I became caught up in the story of a family on their ranch; a tough father who hides his pride for his son beneath a gruff demeanor and a mother who hides her love beneath her own reserved facade. Ranch life is hard and the characters are hard-edged, worn, people with beautiful souls. Perhaps the best character is that of the ranch hand who holds the young Jody’s admiration. This story is one of a child’s deep trust and faith in a fallible man – a faith that is tested to its core and will leave you in suspense over the outcome of it all. I don’t often cry when reading books, but the tears streamed down my face as I read this story.
Head over to Stuck in a Book to read more 1938 book reviews!
I hope you have a weekend that is filled with stories…
Until Next Time,