WINNER of the Pulitzer Prize 1932; WINNER of the Nobel Prize for Literature 1938
(Book #6 for 2007; 3rd book finished for the Classics Challenge; Book #1 for the TBR Challenge)
In the reign of the last emperor a servant woman married a humble man. Together they began an epic journey…
"I can only write what I know, and I know nothing but China, having always lived there," (Pearl Buck)Coming as she did from a missionary background, what I most appreciated in Buck’s epic story was that I never felt any judgement on her part of the Chinese customs, traditions, or superstitions, towards religion, marriage (and concubines), and death. She did a wonderful job of explaining them and portraying the people and their lives very realistically, so it seemed. Simply told, (I didn’t make a note of any quotes while reading), this only made it extremely readable, and allowed the story of Wang Lung to shine through. Married to a slave-woman, O-lan, they suffer together through intense hardships, but Wang’s eternal reverence and love of the land, allows them to finally achieve a better life. Or at least it was a better life for Wang and his sons. To read about O-lan’s life is heartbreaking, and like others have said in their reviews*, I can not imagine being a woman in that time and place, and can only be thankful to have the life I do! With Wang Lung in centre stage, the other family members didn’t come across quite as vividly, but I would still be very interested to read the next book in the trilogy, Sons. I like the idea (from Lotus) that the land, the good earth, represents the value system to keep their morals in check. Unlike Wang, who strayed but always returned, it would be interesting to see how the sons fare as they distance themselves ever more from the life-giving land.
My Rating: 4/5
Note: My copy (Pocket Books by Simon & Schuster UK) contained several typos, which I always find annoying and rather interrupted my reading.
Misc: While browsing online, I found a picture of this U.S. Commemorative stamp from 1983.