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East of the Mountains
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East of the Mountains

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  4,880 Ratings  ·  511 Reviews
From the author of Snow Falling on Cedars comes this bestselling novel about a dying man’s final journey through a landscape that has always sustained him and provided him with hope and challenges.

When he discovers that he has terminal cancer, retired heart surgeon Ben Givens refuses to simply sit back and wait. Instead he takes his two beloved dogs and goes on a last hunt
Paperback, 296 pages
Published July 8th 2003 by Vintage (first published 1999)
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Kris Ludwinski I just finished reading the book today for my book club and did enjoy it. It was different than Snow on Cedars but powerful in its own way. Very…moreI just finished reading the book today for my book club and did enjoy it. It was different than Snow on Cedars but powerful in its own way. Very honest and straightforward, with a lot left unsaid but filled in by the description of the surroundings and the locale and the memories. Beautifully descriptive and highlights the importance of life in a realistic way. Shows us how we all affect those around us and that life is truly worthwhile. I would recommend it for a book club reading, especially for your 50+ group. Enjoy!(less)

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Dec 01, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub-reads
The premise of a man dying of cancer but deciding, so as to spare his family heartache of a long drawn out death, to commit suicide in such a way that it would appear like a hunting accident didn't augur well. I had loved 'Snow falling on cedars' so thouight to give this a go. Am I pleased I did?

Our hero's plans do not run smoothly and along the way he meets and interreacts with a whole horde of characters. It is not simply a straightforward cliche'd ' man-learns-the-value-of-life-through-his e
Susan B.
Feb 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Guterson is an extraordinary writer and storyteller. I read his first novel, Snow Falling on Cedars while spending one extremely snowy winter in Chicago with my dear Aunt Cassie as she fell ill with cancer and spent her last days in a hospice. The staff was nice enough to let me stay overnight anytime I wanted, so I often stayed up late watching the snow fall reading this book, keeping my Aunt company as she rested.

I'm in Chicago again this year, so I decided to mark the (eighth) anniversary of
Feb 18, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1999
Low 3. This novel has the strengths of an excellent premise and wonderful descriptive prose, but the plot feels contrived and the pace sluggish. Guterson has unquestionable ability in painting a landscape so adroitly that it can attain as much attention as the main characters. Moreover, the novel's intended focus is one which promised much, and which could blend with the setting seamlessly. Ben Givens, a retired surgeon and widow, has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and decides to save hims ...more
Linda Boyd
Feb 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I was hesitant to start this book since it is about a man facing his mortality but I am oh so glad that I did. This book is beautifully written about a man facing death but also realizing what life is about. He is not an extraordinary man yet he is in the aspect that every person is and each person has their own unique experiences to make them so. I loved this book so much, it made me feel good about life and also helped me realize somehow that facing death doesn't have to be so terrible, and be ...more
Fred Forbes
Nov 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Had a meeting with a potential financial planning client and the conversation moved from finance to books. He had this one in his car and was going to pass it on to a woman in hospice who, unfortunately, did not last long enough for him to do so. So, he laid it on me.

Interesting topic. How to kill yourself and make it look like an accident rather than putting your family through the months of steady decline and pain from colon cancer. (Interesting that I read a recent article on how doctors die
Sep 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Being a huge fan of David Guterson, I recognized his writing as soon as I opened the book. It was like coming home. Descriptive landscapes lend themselves to being there. You can almost smell the northwest forest. The characterizations are always individuals that I can relate to quite easily because they are anyone, everyone. The story takes place, except for some flashbacks, in perhaps a two day span. This book is about a dying man, and his internal journey while taking a physical journey. Evoc ...more
Similarly to Cold Mountain, this novel takes up the odyssey theme. Ben Givens, a retired surgeon is dying of cancer. He decides to kill himself, and decides to go to over the mountains and do it. However, along the way he'll meet other people who'll affect him more than he could ever have thought.

This is a pretty simple story, though through its simplicity it actually works. Guterson obviously knows his way around the areas he describes, and even though his dialogue is extremely wooden in places
Andy Miller
Aug 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first read this novel of Ben,a 73 year old man facing death from cancer ,when it was first published. I just finished reading it a second time seventeen years later and noticed that my perspective had changed, during the first reading I identified with the narrator's forty something daughter and viewed the narrator, a recently widowed retired heart surgeon, with detachment, now of course the retired doctor's musings on his current and past life are more relevant.
The novel starts with Ben lea
Michael Twist
Jul 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
One wonders what Wolfe would have thought of David Guterson's dying, but determined, doctor doing what Wolfe had suggested was impossible. Unwilling to subject his family to the agony they had endured with his wife's death, Dr. Ben goes on something of a pilgrimage back to the Washington apple orchards of his youth. The journey's itinerary involves a final hunt with his beloved dogs before culminating in a suicide that is intended to look like an accident (thereby leaving his daughter in the dar ...more
Dec 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
Story of an old man who is dying of colon cancer and his decisions over less than a week of time. The author seemed to know a lot about the place and work of the orchards east of the mountains in Washington state. The description was very interesting.

Here is a bit of text I particularly like to give you a flavor of the book. It was not all as good as this as his thoughts wandered widely over his life.

"And why couldn't he detach himself from this earthly, mad desire? Why did he go on wanting a wo
Jul 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
I loved this book! I would have given it 4.5 stars! Maybe I loved it because I was reading it while I was in Orchard Country in Washington when I read it! I loved the main character and I loved the story. It makes me think that I want to read Snow Falling On Cedars again!
Jul 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I have only read two of Guterson's books, but have been impressed with both. This novel reads like a memoir except that it is fiction. The story is about the life of a doctor that served in World War II, had a great romance and life until his wife's recent death. The story centers on the fact that he is now diagnosed with terminal cancer and how he deals with this final blow. He escapes into the wilds of eastern Washington, where he was raised and commences to hunt, hike, hitchhike and make a di ...more
Jan 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was really keen to read this having loved Snow Falling on Cedars. I found it hard to put down.
At one point I thought, I don't like hunting or guns or even hiking much but here I am reading all about it and being really engrossed.
The plot takes some twists and turns and the way it's written you just have to keep reading to find out what happens.
Even the parts where Ben is reminiscing about his past fit in perfectly with what is happening in the present.
Great writing.
Sep 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Have read this book twice, not something I normally do, and now listened to it again in audio format.
It remains an extraordinarily well written story about a man's journey, of literally and figuratively coming to terms with his dying, through the physical journey he takes through the landscape of his youth and the people he encounters there.
This narrator truly does justice to the story, with Guterson's descriptive language of the landscapes the man has traveled and is traveling through.
Sharon Huether
Sep 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A retired doctor with terminal cancer, traveled the country side with his two hunting dogs to shoot a few birds. He meets a number of people along the way. The help he gives them are returned to him in spades. This story is so beautifully written that the reader feels in step with the characters.
Oct 23, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story was good and Dr. Ben was given hope again from total strangers which is always an uplifting feeling but I first read "Snow Falling on Cedars" and there is no comparison. Snow is much better.
Linda Hart
Jun 27, 2009 rated it it was ok
Eloquent, beautiful prose, but boring, slow story. Put it this way: if I were in the middle of a chapter and the phone rang it wouldn't bother me to put the book down and forget about it until I dusted the table it was sitting on.
Aug 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written.
Feb 05, 2009 rated it liked it
Esta es la segunda novela que leo de David Guterson, tras la estupenda ‘Mientras nieva sobre los cedros’, que tan buena fama le otorgo a su autor, sobre todo tras la versión cinematográfica. ’Al este de las montañas’ narra el viaje del septuagenario doctor Ben Givens por ese mítico oeste americano. A Ben, que ha enviudado recientemente, se le ha diagnosticado cáncer terminal de colón, y se propone realizar un último viaje a su tierra de origen, en su vieja camioneta y acompañado de sus dos perro ...more
Other than the middle section describing his time in the war, this is an excellent book. It sits firmly in the old narrator reflects on his life as he faces death niche, and breaks little new ground. But still, a well-written account with interesting characters along the way and enough present-day activity to keep the plot interesting. The book focuses on the life of Ben Givens, born to an apple-orchard family in Washington State. Diagnosed with colon cancer, he decides (at the beginning of the ...more
Lori L (She Treads Softly)
Mar 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
David Guterson, also author of Snow Falling on Cedars, is a wonderful, elegant writer. This is a far more personal story of one man, Dr. Ben Givens, a retired heart surgeon who, after learning he has colon cancer, decides to plan a hunting trip as a ruse to cover up his planned suicide. His wife had passed away 19 months earlier and he wanted to spare their daughter the pain of his decline and death. He is a man on a quest, facing his mortality, overcoming challenges, all while remembering his p ...more
Jan 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
I'm definitely a Guterson fan--I like the slow layers of description on top of deeply moving life experiences. The last third of the book was the easiest part to read because things--momentous things--were happening continuously : Ben's remembered war experiences, the action-packed end of his journey, the resolution of his desire to end his life.

Occasionally, Guterson's readers have to wade through endless detail, and this book was no exception. There's a lot about apple-growing, the war in nor
Oct 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, 2011-challenge
I enjoyed and was moved by this book. I was hesitant about it at first, thinking it might be too depressing, but oddly I didn't find it to be so. A successful retired heart surgeon,with a recent diagnosis of terminal Colon Cancer,just a few years after losing his wife of 50 years. He embarks on one last journey through central Washington, hunting fowl with his dogs. Along the way, he has some significant encounters. We also learn more about his life as a teen growing up on an orchard, and the st ...more
Audrey Stephens
Feb 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Excellent book by the author of Snow Falling on Cedars. While not an easy topic, (the main character has terminal cancer) this book is in no way a downer and in many ways is a real celebration on life. There are many flashbacks to earlier times, some set in Eastern Washington and some in Europe during WWII. Our protagonist meets many interesting characters along the way and the author does a good job of fleshing out these little vignettes. For those of us familiar with Washington State, this boo ...more
Feb 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
With the first sentence I was captivated; "On the night he had appointed his last among the living, Dr. Ben Givens did not dream, for his sleep was restless and visited by phantoms who guarded the portal to the world of dreams by speaking relentlessly of this world." I read this book because I loved reading Snow Falling on Cedars and wanted to read another book by this author. Guterson weaves a story of love between a husband and wife into a story about dying and does it well. He writes of the v ...more
Nov 09, 2015 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Samantha Tanner
Feb 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Irene Waters
Jan 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
What I found particularly interesting about East of the Mountains by David Guterson was that from the very beginning we knew that the character Dr Ben Givens, suffering from bowel cancer, was going home with his dogs to hunt birds for the last time and shoot himself. A retired heart surgeon Givens wanted to have quality of life over quantity of life but he was determined that his suicide would look like an accident. Despite the novels predictability it was compelling and a book that was difficul ...more
Kathryn Mattern
I just wrote a fairly complete review of 'Snow Falling on Cedars' so I won't say much here about why I particularly like Guterson's fiction. I actually listened to 'East of the Mountains' many years ago on CD Books while driving through the desert, so it was just perfect.

Again, I really appreciate the depth at which Guterson writes, yet he never fails to fill us in on all the sensory data as well: place, weather, visuals, story, colorful characters - or at least, if 'colorful' is not quite the r
Rocco Carella
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ciò che inizialmente era una finta "gita" per porre fine alla sua esistenza segnata inesorabilmente da un cancro in fase avanzata, si tramuterà per Ben Givens, cardiochirurgo settantenne, inaspettatamente, in un tuffo tra le distese di artemisia lungo il Columbia River e i frutteti dove il protagonista è cresciuto e ha incontrato la sua Rachel. In pochi giorni, a causa di una serie di eventi e circostanze, il protagonista sarà in qualche modo indotto, a ripercorrere gli aspetti salienti della su ...more
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Am I the only one that really liked this book? 21 37 Feb 13, 2017 11:16AM  
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David Guterson is an American novelist, short story writer, poet, journalist, and essayist.

He is best known as the author of the novel Snow Falling on Cedars (1994), which won the 1995 PEN/Faulkner Award. To date it has sold nearly four million copies. It was adapted for a 1999 film of the same title, directed by Scott Hicks and starring Ethan Hawke. The film received an Academy Award nomination f
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“The rain fell with such fervor that the world disappeared.” 14 likes
“Ben remembered that in Italy, he and Rachel had slipped down between rows of apple trees on the plain of the Po, deep into the cool and dark of orchards, and there they had kissed with the sadness of newlyweds who know that their kisses are too poignantly tender and that their good fortune is subject, like all things, to the crush of time, which remorselessly obliterates what is most desired and pervades all that is beautiful. ” 6 likes
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