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The Pastures of Heaven

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  6,348 ratings  ·  448 reviews
Each of these delightful interconnected tales is devoted to a family living in a fertile valley on the outskirts of Monterey, California, and the effects that one particular family has on them all. Steinbeck tackles two important literary traditions here; American naturalism, with its focus on the conflict between natural instincts and the demand to conform to society's ...more
Paperback, 207 pages
Published March 1st 2001 by Penguin (first published 1932)
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Average rating 4.05  · 
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 ·  6,348 ratings  ·  448 reviews


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Dolors
Dec 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: There is no such thing as paradise
Shelves: read-in-2016
If there is something that will remain embedded in my mind about this collection of short stories is that there is no such thing as an earthly paradise but rather a barren land brought to life by the joys and miseries of its inhabitants.
In his second book, Steinbeck manages to demystify the natural resources of the physical place in favor of the characters that populate it with all their prejudices and superstitions, generosity and disinterested fellowship, idealized aspirations and humble
...more
Cathrine ☯️
Nov 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics
4
Steinbeck is the man. Well, one of them anyway. It is always a pleasure spending time with his prose and this was no exception.
“Katherine was not pretty, but she had the firm freshness of a new weed, and the bridling vigor of a young mare.”

“Alice grew and became more and more beautiful. Her skin was as lucent and rich as poppies; her black hair had the soft crispness of fern stems, her eyes were misty skies of promise.”

I read that the third Mrs. Steinbeck typed his manuscripts and I can’t help
...more
☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~  ⚡ϟ⚡ϟ⚡⛈ ✺❂❤❣
All sorts of mental sickness and disbalance and social maladaptation are represented here. Even though it's a classic it's not my cup of tea. Mothers killing their daughters, neurotics of all sexes, child problems, even a father hoarding his daughter's virginity, gosh! This is not the sort of things one looks for in books.
Beautiful language, even though I didn't think highly of the subject in many cases.
Q:
He had been pleased with the funeral. (c) I wasn't pleased with this book.
Q:
Shark had
...more
Joe Valdez
Feb 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction-general
While Cup of Gold was John Steinbeck's first novel, and he spent five years working on To A God Unknown before putting it aside, The Pastures of Heaven, published in 1932, was the world's introduction to Steinbeck, whose social insight and intellectual depth are woven into stories about the struggle for survival in and around Steinbeck's hometown of Salinas. This novel consists of ten tales set in a thinly veiled version of Corral de Tierra, a valley in the hills twelve miles from Monterey, ...more
Kim
Jun 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Where John Steinbeck is concerned, I'm an unapologetic fan. Having only made his acquaintance relatively recently after a visit to Monterey prompted me to read Cannery Row, I've fallen in love with his clean prose and striking use of imagery, his powerful evocation of place, his ability to turn ordinary people into memorable characters and the deep humanity which is at the heart of his writing.

This was the second of Steinbeck's works to be published. It's a short story cycle in which each of
...more
Jason Koivu
Aug 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
More stories of the people of the Salinas valley area in the early 1900s from the leading expert on the subject, John Steinbeck. These tales of woe and triumph study the fictional lives of the criminally insane to the rich and locally famous. The Pastures of Heaven presents character sketches in the vein of Sherwood Anderson and Gabriel García Márquez, though more salaciously than Anderson and without so much art as Márquez. The book is really a collection of very loosely entwined short stories ...more
Michelle Curie
Oct 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
"Life is so unreal. I think that we seriously doubt that we exist and go about trying to prove that we do."

John Steinbeck is one of my favorite writers and yet I occasionally struggle to put into words what it is that makes him so unique. It might be his language, the lengthy and vivid descriptions of Californian landscapes or the characters, always hard working and good-willed, yet often victims of destiny. The Pastures of Heaven was only his second novel, and it already has all the features
...more
Chris Blocker
In 1919, Sherwood Anderson published a collection of short stories centering around a town. The book was called Winesburg, Ohio. It remained popular into the 1930s. Around this time, a young journalist named Elizabeth Ingels developed an idea of interconnected stories similar to Anderson's work, but based in California. She mentioned the idea to a young writer named John Steinbeck. At the time, Steinbeck was struggling with his first novel (the later published To a God Unknown) and had managed ...more
Steve
Oct 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I feel that Steinbeck’s short stories are overlooked because they’re simple without being simplistic and they plod along at a pace that can feel like watching crops grow. The Pastures of Heaven was written before he became a star and you can trace the outlines of what was to come.

The setting is a valley that a Spanish Corporal finds while chasing runaway Indian slaves. He’s so taken by what he sees that he christens the valley “Las Pasturas del Cielo” or "The Pastures of Heaven."

From the limited
...more
Andrea
"It was a week before the soldiery found [escaped Indians], but they were discovered at last practicing abominations in the bottom of a ferny canyon in which a stream flowed; that is, the twenty heretics were fast asleep in attitudes of abandon.

The outraged military seized them and in spite of their howlings attached them to a long slender chain. Then the column turned about and headed for Carmel again to give the poor neophytes a chance at repentance in the clay pits." - chapter I.

"When it was
...more
Chris Dietzel
Aug 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Although this book isn't nearly as popular as Steinbeck's classics, it does possess the same great literary voice that made the author so popular. I loved the weaving of inter-related short stories and all the odd characters that appeared throughout. This book is further proof that just about anything Steinbeck wrote is worth reading.
Laurene
Jan 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I have always been a fan of John Steinbeck. I have read, The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice And Men, and thought they were exceptional. Pastures Of Heaven is about a small area known as "Las Pasturas del Cielo" located in central California and the families who reside there. I experienced a roller coaster of emotions as I was thrown in these families lives. The beginning -- the ending -- all the pages in-between make the Pastures Of Heaven an exceptional novel.

"After the bare requisites to living
...more
Ericka Clouther
Steinbeck is often such a bummer and this was no exception but something about these little sad vignettes was so enjoyable. This is my favorite Steinbeck novel so far. I’d love to reread it sometime and map out the townspeople as I go (especially Burt’s involvement in all the stories).
Minh
Oct 07, 2018 rated it liked it
One of Steinbeck earliest work. Very colorfully drawn characters. Unfortunately due to time constraint I have to skim a lot of it, but it was a great piece of short story.
Cathie
4.5 stars.
I always love reading Steinbeck.

This is a short novel about the different inhabitants of a southern Californian rural community called the Pasture of Heaven.

My copy of this short book is yellowed from age; it was printed in 1986 and I bought it second hand from some used bookstore a long time ago for $2.99. It was in dearly used shape when I purchased it and then it has sat in my house and moved with me to numerous locations over the years and been exposed to smoke and dirt and now is
...more
Paula
Jan 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not my favourite Steinbeck book but it's still really good, he never makes me regret the time I've spent reading his words. This book contains 12 interconnected short stories about the inhabitants of Las Pasturas del Cielo or, The Pastures of Heaven. Each and every one of these characters seemed slightly mentally unhinged but their hopes and troubles felt completely relatable, true and fundamentally human. The more I read, the more connected I felt to them, and in the end my heart was fit to ...more
Duffy Pratt
Feb 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classic
Although presented with numbers, instead of names, this book is a collection of short stories which all take place within a fertile valley in central California, for which the book is named. There are short "chapters" framing the stories. This structure makes it clear that Steinbeck intends the book to function as a kind of portrait of the valley. Moreover, the frame makes it clear that the valley is a paradise to outsiders, but not so much to the settlers.

Thus, the book is very much akin to
...more
Saige
Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love John Steinbeck with all my heart. The way he describes places is too beautiful for words. I felt like I was in the valley with all his characters- in the place he always writes about. I've read enough Steinbeck by now that his stories feel a little like coming home.

I loved how this one in particular was a collection of short stories that wove together. Each chapter focused on a different character but acknowledged their relationships with other characters in the valley. Everyone was
...more
Jason
Mar 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is a collection of stories about morons. What i mean by that, is that everyone is engagingly simple, "good country people," and their amusement and fear is what makes this story tick. They are all good farmers, moral people without having the dredge of scripted morality, and finally adept to the understandings of both the simplicity of their environment as well as each other's characters. Simplicity drives them, and degardes all progression, for the better. Hence, the maybe unfair moniker ...more
David
Jan 31, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
Steinbeck's "lesser" stuff is still heads and shoulders above many authors out there... The man completely kills it on character development...
Beatrice Apetrei
Mar 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, classics
“He did not often think of people as individuals, but rather as antidotes for the poison of his loneliness, as escapes from the imprisoned ghosts.”


John Steinbeck made his way in my 'to-read' list when I discovered Meg&Dia's song 'Monster', that is supposed to have been written after 'East of Eden'. That time, I wasn't aware of the impact that this author will have on me.
No matter what book I read written by him, he changes something in me. He makes me hate every material and finite thing,
...more
Tom
Jun 14, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My journey through the lesser works of John Steinbeck yields another minor gem!

Another reviewer refers to The Pastures of Heaven as Steinbeck's first book, and although that's not true, it might as well be - Cup of Gold, his actual first book, is a steaming pile, for sure.

Anyway, this one is a whole lot better than Cup of Gold. Steinbeck wasn't suited for pirate stories, and The Pastures of Heaven finds my longtime-favorite American novelist in much more comfortable territory, namely California,
...more
Shaimaa Ali
Dec 12, 2010 rated it did not like it
I read an Arabic Translation to it & didn't enjoy it that much! While each chapter was considered an individual short story. the "Pastures of Heaven" is considered only a background to all those individual stories.. with rare interaction of characters in other chapters..
Lesle
Jan 26, 2020 rated it liked it
The Pastures of Heaven a series of short stories that are linked together.
Steinbeck (who won both the Nobel and Pulitzer Prize) writes of the surrounding landscape with it's beauty or desert like quality that shape the characters as they breathe and live off the land. As much as they put into their little farms is what the farm gave back in abundance or loveliness.

Each of the chapters tells a different life in the Pastures. Bert seems to have a negative affect on many. Several owners have their
...more
☮Karen
4.5
So good.
Shelley
The Pastures of Heaven is the first of Steinbeck's California works, set in the farm country near his hometown of Salinas. Published in 1932, this work precedes his popularity and financial success, but introduces the reader to Steinbeck's style and the genesis of the themes that he explores in later, better-known novels. In this collection of short stories, we meet a community of families living in a beautiful verdant valley full of promise, finding that life can be rather ugly, and their own ...more
Ryan
Dec 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
There’s always something so refreshing for me when returning to Steinbeck. Which is kind of funny because all of his stories basically detail the crushing of his characters’ hopes and dreams… but yet there is always something uplifting in there, a nobleness of pursuit that we identify with and aspire towards, even if Steinbeck’s greater focus is on the fact that the world is the world and nothing we do can change it. But shouldn’t we still try? Isn’t it noble and righteous to have pursuits, even ...more
John
Nov 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Disclosure: I am an unapologetic, hopeless Steinbeck addict. I cannot recall him ever writing a bad word and have found enrichment in the more than 20 books of his I have digested.
This short novel spins a series of interesting stories set against the Salinas/Monterey/Carmel locale where so many of Steinbeck's major works are set. He offers up the history of a unique valley from its initial settlement through succeeding generations, protraying ironies, tragedies and triumphs. Better than just
...more
Jan Summers
Jul 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
John Steinbeck painted vivid pictures of the inhabitants of Las Pasturas del Cielo. His narrative draws you in immediately. Each of the short stories had its own poignant irony. My favorite story was the one about The Whiteside Family.
Amanda || eastofreaden
Feb 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: steinbeck, 2020
Most lives extend in a curve. There is a rise of ambition, a rounded peak of maturity, a gentle downward slope of disillusion and last a flattened grade of waiting for death.


This is such a brilliant little collection of interconnected stories (all taking place in a valley called, of course, The Pastures of Heaven); I am not the world's biggest fan of short story collections but Steinbeck didn't think of this book as that. He considered them tiny novels, and I think is such a perfect way to
...more
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John Steinbeck III was an American writer. He wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath, published in 1939 and the novella Of Mice and Men, published in 1937. In all, he wrote twenty-five books, including sixteen novels, six non-fiction books and several collections of short stories.

In 1962 Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Steinbeck grew up in the Salinas Valley
...more
“After the bare requisites to living and reproducing, man wants most to leave some record of himself, a proof, perhaps, that he has really existed. He leaves his proof on wood, on stone or on the lives of other people. This deep desire exists in everyone, from the boy who writes dirty words in a public toilet to the Buddha who etches his image in the race mind. Life is so unreal. I think that we seriously doubt that we exist and go about trying to prove that we do.” 159 likes
“It's almost impossible to read a fine thing without wanting to do a fine thing.” 29 likes
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