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4.6 out of 5 stars41
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 3 November 2007
Of all the books I've read of Steinbeck this one is my favorite. I think the case is that this one express life in the fullest. It gives a true reflection of the ups and downs while at the same time conveys a sense of joy even in the hardest things and struggles in life. Highly recommended, but read 'Cannery Row' first for sure.
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`Sweet Thursday' is the follow up to `Cannery Row' and although it has many of the same characters from that first book it doesn't quite live up to the charm you felt from when you first delved into the lives of those on Cannery Row. Don't get me wrong, `Sweet Thursday' is still very good and is written in Steinbeck's usual descriptive and rich language and once you start you are quickly engrossed in the story being told, but nothing beats the first time you met these characters in the first instalment. You get Mack and the boys in the palace flophouse and their various exploits, but this novel focuses more on Doc and his loneliness and how the inhabitants of Cannery Row go about alleviating it for him with the usual hilarious results. This novel is slightly longer than `Cannery Row' and follows life after the war and when the area is run down and dilapidated. Having only recently found this novel I was delighted to immerse myself in the lives of these wonderful characters again and if you liked `Cannery Row' it is a safe bet you will like this as well, in fact it would be good to read them one after the other to get the full impact of the story. A worthy successor to `Cannery Row' and a good novel in it's own right, well worth a look if you're a fan of Steinbeck.

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on 30 October 2008
As other reviewers say, this is probably best enjoyed as a sequel to Cannery Row. It shares the same setting and the same collection of likeable losers whose best intentions have a habit of turning out wrong.

Sweet Thursday is gentle and - compared to some Steinbeck novels - quite light. It is certainly not lightweight though. The dry wit, the standard of characterisation and the clever choice of words all make for an enjoyable few hours' reading.
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on 11 February 2001
I still remember my delight as a teenager when I discovered there was a follow-up to Cannery Row. I wasn't disappointed on reading it, neither have I been disappointed on several re-readings in the years since then.
Sweet Thursday is filled with the same places and characters (with some sad departures and some memorable new arrivals) as its predecessor, but the themes and feelings evoked are very different - it looks at Doc a lot more closely, exploring his character, the loneliness of his middle age, and his progress along the path to true love, with the questionable assistance of Mac and the boys.
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on 17 October 2010
Please read Cannery row first and you will be ever so pleased to remake old aquaintances with the same characters in Sweet thursday.
I was sad when I came to the end of the story and closed the book having made a special friendship with every character in Cannery row and again to my absolute delight met them all again in Sweet Thursday.
I may never meet these characters again but it would be lovely to read books and stories like these over and over again.
Coincidence? my nickname at school was Mak.
Who ever fixed Docs brocken arm? I loved that scene and probably cried a little reading it. I usually do if it is good.
Has anyone seen the film or am I mistaken in thinking that it ever made it into film?
How many and what ones of Steinbeck's novels and stories are now films?
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on 20 February 2016
John Steinbeck’s “Cannery Row” was written just after the end of World War II and deals with events which supposedly took place during the depression years of the 1930s. “Sweet Thursday” was written in 1954 as a sequel to “Cannery Row” and updates the story to tell what happened to some of the characters from the original novel in the post-war years of the 1940s. (The title refers to a particularly pleasant day in the lives of some of the characters, "Sweet Thursday" being the day after “Lousy Wednesday”).

There have been a few changes to Cannery Row during the intervening decade. The canneries which gave the area its name have all closed; they survived the lean years of the Great Depression but could not survive what should have been the boom years of the war, as an increase in demand for fish led to overfishing and the collapse of the fish stocks. Dora, the owner of the Bear Flag Restaurant (euphemism for brothel), has died and it is now run by her sister Flora. The storekeeper Lee Chong has sold his business to Joseph and Mary Rivas. Contrary to what one might think, the phrase “Joseph and Mary” refers not to a married couple but to a single, male, individual. Eccentric names seem to be a feature of the book; another male character is named Hazel, and Flora is better known by the nickname “Fauna”.

As in “Cannery Row”, one of the principal characters is Doc, the eccentric marine biologist whom Steinbeck based upon his friend Ed Ricketts, returning to the area after wartime service. (Since publication of the original novel, Ricketts had been killed in a road accident). In the original book Doc was a confirmed bachelor, but now his friends from the Palace Flophouse (a shack which has been turned into a home by a group of local down-and-outs) have decided that he needs a woman in his life and engineer a romance between Suzy, one of Fauna’s girls from the Bear Flag, whom they feel has “too much of the lady” about her to succeed in the prostitution business. A sub-plot deals with another scheme of the Palace Flophouse boys to ensure that Doc becomes their new landlord following Lee Chong’s departure.

Sequels, whether in the cinema or in literature, can be a difficult thing to get right, and in “Sweet Thursday” Steinbeck seems to fall into a trap which he generally managed to avoid in “Cannery Row”, that of sentimentalising poverty. In earlier works such as “The Grapes of Wrath”, “Of Mice and Men” and “The Pearl” he had written movingly of the difficulties and hardships confronting the poor and dispossessed, but here he comes close to extolling the lot of an unemployed, homeless bum as one of ease and plenty, forgetting that a life of idleness usually needs a considerable income to support it. Girls like Suzy generally drift into prostitution because of some deep-rooted problems in their lives, and a contrived romance with as chaotic and individual like Doc is not necessarily the answer to those problems.

Unlike “Cannery Row”, which combined comedy with some more serious themes, “Sweet Thursday” is more of a pure comedy, and there are some very funny scenes, but overall I felt that it did not really live up to the standard Steinbeck had set in its predecessor.
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VINE VOICEon 11 May 2003
You needen't be familiar with 'Cannery Row' but if you are, most of the same characters are back.
The sleepy, run down Californian Town of Steinbeck's youth are brought back in this wonderfully mellow piece of mood writing. No plot synopsis will help you in deciding whether to buy this book, the criteria are these: If you are looking for the gut-wrenching power of Grapes of Wrath, leave it alone; if you are looking for the skilled bitter-sweet moodiness of East of Eden or Cannery Row, this is for you.
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on 15 March 2002
In my opinion John Steinbeck is the most forceful, most truthful, most gentle and most loving storyteller available to the reading public. If you've read Cannery Row and enjoyed it... Sweet Thursday is pure joy and evokes just about every emotion, like real, immediately. You live the story with everyone in it, it's not like reading at all (except when you come to the end of the book!). If you'd like to read a book for pure enjoyment - just to have fun (except when you've got to cry because the pleasure's too painful) - this is the one. Anyone, who mostly likes people, can't help but love this story and all it's characters.
Just my opinion, but I HAD to tell you!
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on 10 May 2013
to the lively celebration of the inhabitants of "Cannery Row". John Steinbeck continues his affectionate, mischievous portrait of an American underclass that is seldom considered as fitting material for fiction. The colourful rascals and wayward ladies of the neighborhood decide to marry off their "lonesome" friend Doc but like previous plans for his birthday celebration, they initiate unforeseen consequences. This is great fun : an amusing but compassionate read,written by an observant and emotionally intelligent author.
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on 17 June 2012
In this novel Steinbeck returns to Cannery Row. It is now after Word War II, Danny and his friends (with a few changes of personell) are still occupying the Palace Flophouse, the Bear Flag Restaurant has a new madam, and Doc is still a free spirit. At least he is until he meets Suzy, the Bear Flag brothel's latest hustler. Steinbeck has not lost his touch from the earlier novel, and the volume is a delight from start to finish.
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