Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: pearl-s-buck
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2019-06-25 23:52
The Conflicted Earth
The Good Earth - Pearl S. Buck

The Good Earth is the story of a Chinese peasant farmer who rises from subsistence farming to wealth and prosperity. Wang Lung's highly improbable rise allows Buck to depict various levels of society in pre-revolutionary China. The year is never identified, but the existence of trains as a new thing places it in the early twentieth century. The novel's success was due not just to its quality as a novel but due to the fact that it introduced many Westerners to Chinese culture for the first time.


The title refers to a theme running through the book of the healing power of staying connected with the land. The irony of this is that it is not a connection to the good earth that resulted in Wang Lung's wealth but some looting committed by his wife during the fall of an unnamed city. The novel is engaging but not particularly deep, more on a level of popular fiction than high literature. The novel's strength is in its depiction of Chinese peasant culture and the plight of Chinese women, which is depicted in a matter of fact manner without authorial editorializing. The cultural aspect is also the cause of most of the book's criticism.


The Good Earth's reputation has declined in recent years, partially due to the the rise of identity politics in literary criticism. Identity critics find fault with the book because it is the story of a Chinese family told by a white woman from the United States. If the novel had been written by a Chinese woman or even a Chinese-American, it might hold a very different place in the world of literary criticism. Buck knew as much or more about China than any American of her time, but she was not Chinese so her work falls under the shadow of post-colonialism. Taken on its own merits as a novel, The Good Earth is pretty good. It is when you try to read it as a cultural document of China that it becomes conflicted.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-08-21 16:22
Imperial Woman
Imperial Woman - Pearl S. Buck

My friend sent me this book without warning. She thought I might like it, and she was right. 


Imperial Woman was a fascinating story of the Chinese Dowager Empress Cixi, or Tsu-Hsi as she's called in the book. Cixi joins the court of the Emperor as a concubine and manages to become the main influence over the Emperor, and eventually Empress - by means that are sometimes ruthless, sometimes kind, but always with the goal in sight of extrapolating herself from a position of servitude. 


Buck's portrayal of Cixi was fascinating. It cannot have been easy to create even a fictional character in such a lifelike fashion when the characters life depended on her keeping her thoughts and feelings to herself, and whose legend is blurred by rumours and superstitions that were rife during her reign, and where a breach of confidentiality or a breach of loyalty may well have carried a death sentence.


I had some issues with the book after the first half, where the story dragged a little and where I got a bit lost in trying to figure out how and why Buck wanted to force a love story into a plot that was already filled with political intrigue, suspense, historical events, and fascinating tidbits about life at the Chinese court during the late Qing dynasty. It just didn't need a love story that may or may not be based on historical fact. To me this just distracted from Cixi's mission to restore China as a respected, economically autonomous country, free from the colonial grip of the 8 Nation Alliance.


This historical setting, the discussion of China's struggle against the powers that tried to claim China as their own, was what made the book stand out for me.

Buck challenged the notions of colonialism from an unusual perspective. She does not paint China, or the Chinese court in any case, through a romanticised view by any stretch - there were plenty of descriptions that made me wince - but I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story from a point of view that does not presume the respectability and civility of the Western European governments as part of the story. The issues of colonialism were fascinating in this book. The only other aspect that eclipsed this for me was Buck's portrayal of a woman in a man's world, trying to save a bankrupt empire from disaster. Even though some of the historical events are given in general terms rather than details, this was an informative, entertaining, and though-provoking work of historical fiction. 

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2018-08-18 16:17
Reading progress update: I've read 123 out of 376 pages.
Imperial Woman - Pearl S. Buck

Interesting. The Bombardment of Canton during the Second Opium War plays a relatively prominent part in this story about Empress Cixi, and yet, the reasons for the Opium War, especially the second one, are left out completely and are replaced with a highly romanticised refusal of Lord Elgin (son of the Elgin of the Marbles) to kowtow to the Viceroy. 


Part of me thinks this is a missed opportunity, part of me admires Buck's choice to focus the story almost entirely on the goings on at Cixi's court.

Like Reblog
show activity (+)
text 2017-07-31 18:52
Bored Senseless
Sons - Pearl S. Buck

I don't know what else to say here besides things happened to people and I wanted to take a nap. Also for those who download this via Kindle, never fear, book #2 is not as long as you think. I got to 60 percent and book #2 was done. The remaining 40 percent was a preview (a really long one) of the final third book in this series. 


I really wish I had DNFed this book. I am going to start reclaiming my time and just kicking a book immediately after I am not feeling it. I honestly have not wanted to read a thing since some of the books on my currently reading list have not moved me at all. Hoping that I get in a better mindset later and can just finish some more books soon.


"Sons" the second book in the House of Earth series follows the sons of Wang Lung, called Wang Lung the Landlord, Wang Lung the Merchant and Wang the Tiger. The book focuses mostly on Wang the Tiger with Buck popping up now and again into the eldest and second's son's businesses with some minor appearances by Pearl Blossom. 


I didn't get a good grasp on any character in this second book. Unlike with the first book, the women in this one are paper thin instead of being realized as their own characters. Wang the Tiger's first wife may have been interesting to follow, but Buck quickly dispatches with her with the quickness. 


This second book is like night and day from the first book. All of the characters were underdeveloped and the writing was not good. I would say that this book is 100 percent filler since I think that Buck wants to focus on what happens to this family in book #3. I also wish that Buck had stuck a time period in this series since I can't tell where we are in China's history. 

Like Reblog
text 2017-07-31 15:54
Reading progress update: I've read 100%.
Sons - Pearl S. Buck

This was not good. I felt like I was reading the world's longest Bible story ever. There was a lot of thus's (plural?) and I was bored from beginning to end. Definitely not as good as the first book in the House of Earth series. Also Amazon, maybe don't have this on your site as Pearl S Buck Oriental series. I face palmed the hell out of myself when I saw that.

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?