Be glad in the Lord and rejoice! Psalm 32:11

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

In The Shadow of The Cypress by Thomas Steinbeck

I was so pleased to be asked to participate in the book blog tour for "In The Shadow of The Cypress" by Thomas Steinbeck. As a huge fan of his father's work, I am so honored to be allowed to review this book.

At the turn of the twentieth century, life along the northern California coast would undergo several events that would change the lives of many. The great earthquake of 1906 that tore San Francisco apart would have rippling effects up and down the coastal shoreline, including the Monterey Peninsula area. The immense damage would include many of the ancient Cypress trees that had stood as sentinels along the edges of the water for centuries.

As crews cleaned the felled trees, one man would discover an unusual find beneath the roots of a 400-plus old Cypress. As he gently pried the treasure from the gnarled root, the man, a gentle, curious Irish soul, would have no idea the magnitude of his discovery until it threatened the very way of life as it was known in that small area of California.

“In The Shadow Of The Cypress,” by Thomas Steinbeck, tells the story of the historical Chinese presence and influence in Northern California. In a novel that is at times absolute poetry to read, Steinbeck adeptly captures the flavor and feel of the era. His narration of an intriguing saga that expands over centuries is lyrical in a manner that the reader can hear the voices of the characters as their tale of a fascinating adventure unveils.

The novel begins with marine biology professor Dr. Charles Gilbert’s journal where he recounts the story of the discovery of a historical stone marker, along with a beautiful pink jade statute, that could possibly have denoted the early presence of the Chinese along the California coast long before Columbus stumbled upon the new world. After dealing with much intrigue and mystery with the artifacts and the man who found them, the curious and equally mysterious Billy O’Flynn, Dr. Gilbert makes the decision to inform the elders of a nearby Chinese fishing village of the find only to be surprisingly informed that they had the matter well under control.

From there, the priceless relics would begin a journey that would include and influence the lives of many, ultimately resulting in their loss. An eventual re-discovery of the treasure over a hundred years later by two young researchers would find combined efforts of science, technology and even global cooperation working together to bring a fitting conclusion to the amazing history of the sacred relics.

Steinbeck brings to his debut novel a striking talent for sharing the sights, the flavor, and at times the actual smells of the California coast through his words. Employing the voices of Dr. Gilbert, the Chinese agent Dr. Loa-Hung, and finally Charles Lucas and his friend Richard Wu, Steinbeck brings the story forth in a timely manner that allows the flow of history without losing any of the suspenseful impact of the tale.

“In The Shadow Of The Cypress” is officially Thomas Steinbeck’s debut novel, although he has penned a previous collection of short stories entitled “Down To A Soundless Sea.” Obviously comparisons will be made between Steinbeck’s work with his father’s (John Steinbeck), but I found that although similar in the way their words have a charming ability to capture a reader’s imagination, the son’s work stands on it’s own merits as a beautifully worked piece of literature that deserves accolades of it’s own.

About The Author:

Thomas Steinbeck began his career on the 1960s as a motion picture cinematographer and photojournalist in Vietnam. He serves on the board of the Board of Directors of The Stella Adler Theater and The National Steinbeck Center. He has written numerous dramatic adaptations of his father's work as well as a number of original documentaries. Thomas Steinbeck lives on the central coast of California with his wife.

I received this book to be reviewed by the publisher, and was under no obligation for a favorable review.


Janel said...

I love books with mysteries than span time. This sounds like a great one!

Deb said...

I am a new follower and love John Steinbeck's work. I will definitely check out his son's work. Thanks for the review.

imbookingit said...

What a beautifully written review!

Tea said...

Great review!

jewelknits said...

What a wonderfully well-written review! I must now add yet another to my TBR pile!

Julie @ Knitting and Sundries