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The Winter of Our Discontent (Penguin Modern Classics)

The Winter of Our Discontent (Penguin Modern Classics) [Kindle Edition]

John Steinbeck
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

Steinbeck's last great novel focuses on the theme of success and what motivates men towards it. Reflecting back on his New England family's past fortune, and his father's loss of the family wealth, the hero, Ethan Allen Hawley, characterises successin every era and in all its forms as robbery, murder, even a kind of combat, operating under 'the laws of controlled savagery.'


A New Englander learns the bitter lesson that it is not possible to be a little dishonest.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 736 KB
  • Print Length: 292 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (3 May 2001)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141186313
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141186313
  • ASIN: B002RI9WTI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #48,787 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars America, 1961 and 2001 27 Oct 2002
This is a frightening book, with more real horror than ten of the standard fare. By detailing one man's sliding morals, it holds up a mirror to everyone, as we all have faced similar decisions between doing what is right and doing what is convenient. And facing ourselves can be truly horrifying -- especially when the collective result of everyone's decisions is clearly evident in the ethical morass of today's world, from a President trying to re-formulate the English language to the Enron financial fiasco to wide-spread cheating on exams at military academies that pride themselves on the honor system.
For this novel Steinbeck decided to remove himself from his normal California setting in favor of the East Coast. By doing so he availed himself of a milieu where tradition and 'old money' set the standards for acceptance into 'society'. Ethan Hawley is a man whose family used to be part of that 'society', but due to bad financial decisions he now finds himself clerking for an immigrant who owns the grocery store he himself used to own. With a wife quietly but constantly chiding him about her desires for a better life, to be able to hold her head up in society, and two kids constantly clamoring for more things, Ethan finds himself at a crossroads between a rigid moral code instilled in him by his aunt and grandfather, and providing a better life for those he loves.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Money, Family Life and a Clever Plot 14 Aug 2001
By A Customer
The Winter of Discontent is a wonderful novel which works on lots of levels. It centres on Ethan Hawley, who works in a grocery store which his family used to own. Seemingly happy at being poor, Ethan tries to instill old-fashioned virtues into his family. He also knows that he should try to regain his families name in the community and that he should strive to be something more than a shop assistant. Steinbeck cleverly intermingles all of the characters into Hawley's ingenious plot to become rich and satisfy his childrens' lust for material wealth. Greed of course plays a big part in this novel makes this novel from the 1960s topical today. This is one of Steinbeck's last novels and the first one of his I have ever read. I heartily recommend it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Considered and thought provoking 22 Jun 2005
By VanGo
I liked this Steinbeck offering. I liked the fact that it's about small town morality, and ultimately society's morals too. The narrative raises questions about our attitudes towards the mundane and the everyday humdrum things like friendship, honesty, ambition, deception, fidelity, sex, family, avarice, petty corruption and to those of us who fall between the cracks.
Okay, so that may sound very traditional and staid, perhaps it isn't sexy enough, but that's exactly why I admire Steinbeck's work. He writes about the real and our day-to-day lives and in this novel he highlights questions of morality through the story of failed businessman Ethan Hawley and New Baytown in late '50s early '60s America.
I found it a compelling read, it wasn't an obvious story to tell and so I never really knew where the story was going to turn. It grabbed me with some clever structure and brilliant characterisation. I was particularly struck by the finely observed relationship between that of the protagonist and of his wife Mary, "My Mary".
Steinbeck's power for social realism shone out, describing the life of New Baytown and its occupants in minute detail and through it showing the quiet nobility of ordinary working people. It reminded me strongly of similar evocations in his masterpiece, The Grapes of Wrath.
This is a quirky and deceptively well-written book, with snappy dialogue, memorable characters and an intellectual seriousness lying behind the seemingly innocuous events. Recommended.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The trials of modern life 9 Mar 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This well told story is a testament to the fact that none of society's ongoing cravings for materialistic fulfillment are anything new. The scrambling to achieve a better social standing and to keep up with the Jones's would seem to have been a concern to most of suburbia for quite some time. This is part of the subject of this poignant story. The lead character is Ethan and initially seems to be a contented, intelligent, well liked man, and could be happy with his position in life, even though that position is quite low down the ladder. However, those around him, family and friends, seem to be reticent, at least to some degree, to accept Ethan's place in the world. His children are disgruntled with their lack of family wealth and Ethan worry's about his wife's social standing. They have no car and they have no TV. These things and others are what seem to count to those around Ethan. Ethan's honest character and mind are eventually worked upon until he succumbs to crossing the line that he has previously drawn between himself and the unacceptable. The story is that of a good man, and his inner battle to maintain or to regain his dignity.

As well as the main story of one mans descent under the weight of expectation there are also touches of sex, race, crime and corruption as well as a window into 1960's American suburbia and the attitudes thereof.

There is a message in the story that I found strangely reassuring. The modern phenomenon of wanting something, or everything, for nothing, is not new. Our sad obsession with celebrity is not a modern intellectual rot. Youth has not taken a terrible slide into indolence. All these undesirable quality's are present in this story and gradually wear Ethan down into submission.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Winter of our discontent
I found this a complete change from Steinbeck's California books. Ethan Allan Hawley works in a grocery store and has two smart kids; his wife works outside the house to bring in... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Clare O'Beara
5.0 out of 5 stars Steinbeck`s great 'modern' novel
Ethan Hawley is a man teetering on several brinks. Of an old and distinguished Long Island family, he is a grocery clerk with a needy family, perkily lovely wife Mary, a teenage... Read more
Published 3 months ago by GlynLuke
5.0 out of 5 stars The Winter of Our Discontent John Steinbeck
This is the first time I have read a John Steinbeck book? I found the book a struggle to get into but once I got used to the style of writing I throughly enjoyed the book. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Oxford
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellant
As relevant today as when it was written, Thought provoking and profound. Right up to the standard expected of a great author.
Published 10 months ago by Roger J Cove
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
Beautifully written, wonderful descriptions, excellent read.
This is the first of John Steinbeck's books that I have read, left me wanting to read more!
Published 11 months ago by daisy
5.0 out of 5 stars Steinbeck
I prefer the Steinbeck when he moves away from the country and into the towns after the war...this was brilliant.
Published 11 months ago by escorial
4.0 out of 5 stars A pleasant read
Perhaps not as grand in theme as some of Steinbeck's better known novels, this story of small-town lives in 1950s America is nevertheless a good way to pass the time. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Phil O'Sofa
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece
This book puts Steinbeck up there with the other giants of literature, Dickens, Tolstoy,et al; immensely readable too. three more words
Published 17 months ago by Bob Thompson
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I'm a real fan of Steinbeck's big stories such as the Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden. I was susprised and disappointed by the writing in this novel which never engaged me nor... Read more
Published 18 months ago by CJ
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth Reading
Not as sure about this book as I am about other John Steinbeck's novels. The story is not as easy to follow as most of JS books but still worth reading.
Published 20 months ago by Siobhan O'Neill
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