`The Long Valley' is yet another outstanding Steinbeck book, this time a collection of short stories set around, and in, the Salinas Valley in California. From the betrayal of `The Chrysanthemums', via the simple evocation of `Breakfast' and the look at husband and wife dynamics in `The White Quail', The Harness' and `The Murder' this book leads you from beautiful story to another until it leaves you satisfied and breathless at the characterisation and imagery in `Red Pony'. This last story is in 4 part and covers nearly 80 pages and it moved me through a wide range of emotions. From contentment, sorrow, happiness, pity and more besides, this story has the ability to connect with you at a deep level and make you feel things as keenly as the characters. The only story to stand out from the others is `Saint Katy the Virgin' which is about an almost demonic pig that gets converted to Christianity. If nothing else this story is original! This edition has a good introduction looking at the themes of the stories and makes for interesting reading in it's own right. All in all, if you're a fan of Steinbeck you won't be disappointed. You'll recognise the vivid imagery and beautiful writing and this is perfect to dip in and out of, or even read in one sitting. Simply wonderful.
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Early Steinbeck dealing with short hard hitting stories but the best thing about this book is the final chapter ."The Leader of People." The final chapter of. "The Pony," that alot of people are unaware of.
I'm reading and re-reading all of Steinbeck's books. What total genius....!!! Although there are many similarities in all his books (setting, characters, etc.) each one is a little gem. If you've enjoyed any Steinbeck you'll enjoy this - a great read from the great man....