John Steinbeck – Of Mice and Men (Book Review)

of mice and men john steinbenckOpening Line: A few miles south of Soledad, the Salinas River drops in close to the hillside bank and runs deep and green. The water is warm too, for it has slipped twinkling over the yellow sands in the sunlight before reaching the narrow pool.

Synopsis: Streetwise George and his big child-like friend Lennie are drifters searching for work in the fields and valleys of California. They have nothing except the clothes on their back and a hope that one day they’ll find a place of their own and live the American dream. But dreams come at a price.

Gentle giant Lennie doesn’t know his own strength, and when they find work at a ranch he gets into trouble with the boss’s daughter in-law.

Trouble so bad that even his protector George may not be able to save him…

Genre: Classic

Sample Passage:

I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you, and that’s why.

Time to Complete: 2 Days


GCSE English would have been a little more interesting for me if this book was part of the curriculum. As luck would have it, we were stuck with some stooge called Shakespeare who turned out to be a pretty dab hand himself with the typewriter.

I was dimly aware of a film adaptation of this novel but for the life of me couldn’t remember what had happened. I did remember though that Gary Sinise and John Malkovich had played the part of the luckless and perennial drifters George and Lennie in the movie and as Steinbeck described them in the opening chapters, I couldn’t help but see the the hard beady eyes of Sinise and goofy Malkovich helping to bring the story to life.

of mice and men movie poster steinbeckThis was a short book. Shorter than I would have liked because I had really warmed to the characters and setting, but who am I to criticise a Nobel Literature Prize Winner? For it’s size, it packs a hell of a punch inviting the reader to share in a range of emotions from hope and despair, joy and sadness as serious issues like racial prejudice, sexism and mental health are explored.

As stories go, it’s a pretty simple one and there are really only a half dozen scenes in the book which make it perfect for the stage. I really loved the snappy dialogue in the book and interaction between the characters not least George and Lennie. There is a great cast of supporting characters like crippled, loving dog owner Candy or the villain Curley, ranch owners son and amateur boxer but suffering terribly from small-dick syndrome compelling him to pick a fight with the biggest man in any room.

Without giving too much away, the duo soon find their dreams of a little house and a piece of land where they can raise rabbits,turn into a nightmare with what must be one of the best and emotive endings I’ve read for a long time.

A masterful piece of literature that effortlessly transported me to another time and place albeit all too briefly.

Overall: 8 / 10

Next Book: Animal Farm, George Orwell
Part of the BBC Big Read 100 List

image credit (1, 2)

9 thoughts on “John Steinbeck – Of Mice and Men (Book Review)

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