Previously, the only Steinbeck book I'd read was Of Mice and Men, and while I enjoyed it, I think I liked this one even better; its almost musical prose is rich in both tragedy and humor, and the pace was fast enough to allow me to complete the novel in just two days.
The story is growing darker and more serious, and of course more captivating; luckily for me, I don't have to wait until book 5 comes out to see what's going to happen next (there are benefits to reading an entire series once it's been completed!).
Reading this book reminded me of many long, lazy childhood afternoons absorbed in a Nancy Drew mystery; it's been years since I've read a good mystery (I attempted a James Patterson book a few years ago but was disappointed by an excess of gruesome violence) and this book, as the first Agatha Christie story I've ever read, makes me want to read more in the future!
Written and published in installments yet remaining unfinished at the time of Byron's death, this lengthy poetic work (written in 8-line rhyming stanzas, totalling over 500 pages) follows the romantic and other adventures of its "hero," Don Juan; certain parts were intriguing but overall, I would not recommend this book for pleasure reading because its many digressions and historical/political allusions require much supplementary reading and research to fully comprehend.
I didn't like it at the start, but this 900-page Victorian saga has, upon completion, reached a high place on my list of all-time favorite books for its intricate portrayal of characters and emotions; if you're patient and struggle through some tedious passages along the way, you might end up feeling the same way too.