Contact email: mesreads AT
###Winner Announcement Posts are linked here.###

GIVEAWAYS ARE NOW LOCATED ON THEIR OWN PAGE - CLICK ON TAB ABOVE; Giveaways also linked on right sidebar.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Audio Book Review: The Grapes of Wrath, Dramatization

I really enjoyed this dramatization of this classic story.
The Grapes of Wrath
By John Steinbeck, Frank Galati [Adapt.]
Read by Shirley Knight, Jeffrey Donovan, and a Full Cast
Published by L.A. Theatre Works
LENGTH 1 hr and 59 mins
Locate a copy at Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Genre: Dramatization, Classic Literature
My Rating: 4.25 of 5.0

Drought and economic depression are driving thousands from Oklahoma. As their land becomes just another strip in the dust bowl, the Joads, a family of sharecroppers, decide they have no choice but to follow. They head west, towards California, where they hope to find work and a future for their family.

"With a photographer’s eye for honest detail and a musician’s ear for the era’s language and dialogue, John Steinbeck’s Dustbowl epic of displacement, heartache, and hope became both a touchstone and lightning rod in American literature as soon as it was published in 1939. The novel continues to resonate and L.A. Theatre Works’s full-cast performance of Frank Galati’s Tony Award-winning stage adaptation hits all the high points. In this story of family and survival, Jeffrey Donovan provides a solid voice and foundation for the Prodigal Son figure, Tom Joad. Francis Guinan finds the wisdom and humor in the broken preacher, Jim Casey. And veteran Broadway star Shirley Knight shines as the matriarch, Ma Joad, bringing heart, soul, and tears to every line. A fine introduction to Steinbeck’s world.”

I remember reading Grapes of Wrath years ago either in high school or college days. My recollection is that it was striking but depressing. I really had no big desire to re-read a depressing book. However, I downloaded the dramatized audio adaptation from SYNC as a pair with Eleventh Plague. Since I had reviewed Eleventh Plague a few weeks ago I decided it would be interesting to listen to the classic it was paired with. I am very glad that I did.

This dramatization includes songs and jingles that fit the soulfulness of the Great Depression.  The drama brings forth many of the emotions that flowed from the original story but it is much easier listening. Tom Joad is a son returning home from prison. He runs into a light hearted Jim Casey, who has given up preaching for a more prosaic and basic life of a rambler.  The Joad family is already packing to leave the Oklahoma land which has been taken over as the sharecroppers are being put out. The family includes grandparents who really do not want to leave but have little choice, a daughter who is pregnant and hoping for better things for her child and parents who a putting one foot before the next to survive and live the life as dull as it may seem.

There is a large group who are taking what belongings they can carry and moving to California where it is rumored there are good jobs and a chance to rebuild a new homestead.  Along the way they share comraderie around the fires and tents. Some places they find welcoming and others they are barred or ousted by others who do not want to share or who are suspicious of strangers bringing trouble.  One stranger the meet tries to tell them that the pamphlets promising jobs are lies but the family will not listen, they must learn for themselves.

There is little of joy in the story which is a harsh and poignant portrayal of the financial and mental losses suffered by those who lost hope during the times of the Great Depression. Fortunately the songs and jingles in this dramatized adaptation help bring a bit of spirit amid the sorrows and down to earth plodding of life.   The actors who "play" the characters do a wonderful job of conveying the emotional burdens that they are facing.

I thought this was a great pairing with Eleventh Plague.  I could see struggling familial units and societies, with fear, greed, loss, sorrow, depression and a flicker of hope in each story. Somehow reading both seems appropriate in this time of economic strife that may see communities falling into some of these same problems.

I encourage listening to both of these audios and I give a BIG thanks to SYNC YA for making them available!
This was from the wonderful SYNC YA Summer 2012 program which offers free downloads of Young Adult and Classic pairs to encourage YA listening.
I will add this to my Audio Challenge List.

1 comment:

  1. I've read the book several times. I loved it so I'm sure I will enjoy the audio of it. I think I'll put it on my wish list. Thank you for the review :)


Your comments are always appreciated!


Related Posts with Thumbnails