`The Pastures of Heaven' is the second book of Steinbeck's to be published and rather than being a straight forward novel, this is more a collection of short stories that feature the same characters throughout. I have read numerous Steinbeck books and have yet to be disappointed and this one is no exception. You get his beautiful descriptions, unique characterisations and short self contained stories that explore a range of human emotions. These stories are set within a California valley, near Salinas, where many of his other books are also set. Of all Steinbeck's books, this one made me feel the saddest as I read it. Each story has beauty, warmth and wonderful writing and yet they all seem to end on a sad or poignant note. I guess this is analogous to life, where we have moments of joy and happiness tempered by moments of sadness and disappointment. This book also has an introduction written by James Nagal which explores some of the themes of the book, as well as explanatory notes at the end that clarify certain phrases used throughout the book. If you are new to Steinbeck then I suggest you start with another of his books first (`Grapes of Wrath' or `Of Mice and Men' are excellent starting places) but you will want to visit this book at some point down the line and you will not be disappointed once you do. Steinbeck is a truly masterful writer and this book only cements that opinion.
Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.