audio book: 2.75 hours
*** About the Book ***
After the success of THE GRAPES OF WRATH author John Steinbeck became uncomfortable with his sudden fame. About this time he reworked an old legend into a new story, which he called THE PEARL. In the story Keno, a pearl diver in a small Spanish village, finds the largest pearl anyone has ever seen. And just in time too, as his baby boy has been stung by a scorpion and needs medical care that Keno cannot afford. The pearl seems to be the solution to all the family's problems ... but is it really a blessing, or is it a curse?
*** Why I Read It ***
This book was referenced in the show LOST, and since I love Steinbeck anyway, I figured it was the perfect choice to read for the LOST Books Challenge. I knew nothing about this book before picking it up except the title and the author.
*** My Thoughts ***
According to the introduction, this book is a reworking of an old story. If that is true, then it is a story I have never heard of, so I came to this story with no expectations. Wait, that's not true. I "expected" classic Steinbeck ... and unfortunately, that is not what I got.
What I love so much about Steinbeck's other books that I read (EAST OF EDEN, CANNERY ROW, and even THE GRAPES OF WRATH) is the power of his descriptions and the amazing characters he creates. Scenes and images from those books stayed with me long after I read them. I realize that the purpose of this book was different - to convey a deeper truth about the culture of materialism we live in - but all that I love about Steinbeck's writing was missing here; the characters were stereotypical, the setting a mere sketch, and the moral was a constant drum beat throughout the story. To be honest, I was quite disappointed in this book.
I also wasn't impressed with the narrator of this audio book, Frank Muller. According to the package he has won various awards for his work and is a highly respected narrator. His narration just didn't work for me. His reading was overly dramatic, like the way you'd tell a scary story around a campfire at night; it seemed overdone to me.
*** Relation to LOST? ***
I gave this some serious thought and here's what I came up with:
THE PEARL is about the evils of materialism and how it is better to live without money and be happy. On LOST, the survivors of the crash do almost exactly that near the beginning of the show. They realize that they can live pretty good lives despite their circumstances ... until, of course, they meet The Others. And the last we heard, Rose and Bernard continued to embrace their simplified life despite the changes to the island.
After I exhausted my brain coming up with this I headed over to the official LOST book list and here's what I found:
- The most obvious reference to this book is that there is a Dharma Station called The Pearl. I can't seem to find any relation between the station and the book though.
- The theme of the book - that money doesn't bring happiness, and that too much money actually brings unhappiness - is exemplified in the the show by Hurley and his rotten luck since winning the lottery. Much of that was featured in the episode "Everybody Hates Hugo" (Season 2, Episode 4).
*** Your Thoughts ***
Are you familiar with the story this book is based on? If so, where did you hear it? Have you read this book? Do you agree with my comparisons to Steinbeck's other books? Chime in with your opinions!