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Portrait of a Marriage

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  506 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
Buck follows one woman's journey through a long-term marriage; its romanticized beginning, jolts of disillusionments and losses, and peace through acceptance and faith; as a metaphor for life.
Paperback, 208 pages
Published June 2nd 1975 by Pocket Books (first published January 1st 1940)
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(showing 1-30)
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Nandakishore Varma
This was a serendipitous read. I was in India recently, and this old book which was lying about in my reading nook suddenly caught my eye. As I read the blurb, I remembered the story: my great-aunt used to tell it to me often, as a cautionary tale on marrying beneath one's station (maybe she was a bit afraid that I would fall for a pretty face without considering caste and pedigree). On a whim I started reading it, and realised to my surprise that it was much more than the story of an ...more
May 24, 2014 Emily rated it it was amazing
Since Pearl S. Buck was a MK, I thought this book would be Christian. I was surprised at how much despairing of souls there was in it, like a lostness of one who cannot find the true meaning in life.

Aside from that, it was a good story. Most books go into detail about a certain few years in a characters life… this went from before William even met his wife until his death as an old man, and how his widow coped thereafter.

She was a Proverbs 31 woman to me, living to better his life and keeping
Linda Caddick
Oct 29, 2016 Linda Caddick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Intense character studies highlight the vast differences between two people, bound together in love, who share their entire lifetimes, each suffering the loss of what could have been. A fascinating insight into the intricacies of a unique relationship and how the attributes and aspirations of both individuals filter down in unexpected combinations in their children and grandchildren, who somehow continue what is left incomplete. This novel leaves you pondering about life and what is really ...more
Oct 30, 2016 Yvonne rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! The tenderness expressed in the relationship between the main characters is heart-warming. Compared to modern novels where relationships seem shallow and artificial, this novel explores the inner workings of marriage complete with the insecurities and doubts of loving ones' spouse deeply and completely.
Dec 04, 2016 Nancy rated it really liked it
I had mixed feelings about this book. I love Pearl S. Buck's writing, loved seeing the characters through their long lives, loved Buck's commentary on the process of life and living in a marriage, but the main characters were so strange and selfish. A husband who loved his wife so much that he had little love for his children, his parents, etc. A wife who could only live in her own little world.
Nov 14, 2016 Diana rated it really liked it
This was a great short novel that was an easy read but nice and literary. I have to admit that I started out very much not liking one of the main characters, but over time was able to appreciate the complexity Buck gave him.
Oct 25, 2016 Tami rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

What a work of art! So well defined, the characters held true throughout a 50 year marriage with all life threw at them. Truly a portrait of how marriage could be when the canvas is undying love and commitment.
larry brashear
Nov 09, 2016 larry brashear rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This Authors talent lies in her ability to properly portray feelings and emotions in a myriad settings. I simply love all of her books!
A bit different from Pearl Buck's other novels, not in style, but in setting. This is the first book I've read of her novels set in the United States and about marriage of two different social classes. At first I wasn't sure if it was up to her usual high standards, but by the end, I was convinced she had another great book. How did she write so many and so well?
Oct 09, 2016 Donna rated it liked it
Neeraja S
Apr 19, 2011 Neeraja S rated it really liked it
The title and the book's cover leave little to the imagination in terms of the theme and the storyline. A wealthy and refined young artist wanders the lands of rustic and rich Philadelphia pastures to find inspiration for his paintings. He does find his inspiration, by mere accident, through a lovely and beautiful farm girl. Inevitably, the two people who couldn't be more different, fall in love. The young artist soon realizes that this angelic farm girl was more than just an inspiration to his ...more
Lisa Louie
Jul 22, 2009 Lisa Louie rated it it was ok
I found a battered copy of this book in musty corner of a used bookstore in Mexico City, and saucily purchased it after reading the cover jacket quotation from the book, something about the husband gasping in horror at the specter of his wife holding a whip in his hand. This, although I knew that since it was Pearl Buck, there wouldn't be anything truly salacious or gratuitous about it. In truth, I've always been curious to discover which elements make a novel timeless and which consign them to ...more
Lisa of Hopewell
Jul 23, 2013 Lisa of Hopewell rated it it was amazing
ABSOLUTELY in love with this book!! What amazingly beautiful and romantic prose. I have never read anything so gloriously well written on any subject, let alone on a marriage. Ruth and William's story is a marvel of poetic prose. Their physical love (nothing as nasty as contemporary TMI-sex scenes) left me teary eyed--and I'm a cynic. It was that lovely. Finally, an author who clearly sees and communicates just what love means to a man--the insecurity that vanishes just having that loved woman ...more
Dee Sun
Jul 06, 2016 Dee Sun rated it it was amazing
I am in awe of the raw honesty of imperfections of the characters.
I am in awe of the author's ability to make life so poetic.
After I read this book , it stayed with me a long time in my mind.
I did not like some of the characteristics of William. Realistic as they
were. It made me consider the fact that some people just do not have the
ability to care about their own children. This lack of capability is almost expressed as
not liking a certain taste in food...or just not his cup of tea.
Dec 28, 2014 Zoe rated it liked it
Description is slightly misleading. Most of the book is from the husband's perspective, though there's a shift by the end. Worth the quick read but not as good as Buck's other work, and even not as good as her other book about an artist's life, This Proud Heart. It's an interesting comparison, having read them back-to-back, and I wonder how much of the difference is due to the male protagonist vs. female protagonist as written by a female author. As far as I can tell (being an American woman) ...more
Apr 15, 2011 Shana rated it really liked it
A co-worker loves this book and she kindly lent me one of her copies. While reading this book I had to remind myself that I couldn't interpret the relationship by my current standards. This is a very loving relationship, but I can't imagine how it could function in today's society.

Pearl S. Buck is a beautiful writer and I captured quite a few quotes that I will read when I need an inspiration fix.

I now plan on reading The Good Earth (I'm one of the few people that wasn't required to read in hig
Jan 27, 2012 Neyo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first Pearl S. Buck story that I have read. As the title goes, it was a story that makes you feel good about marriage. I was in high school when I read this book, and that early I know then what I want in life, aside from a good career.
Lahli Shahin
Nov 12, 2007 Lahli Shahin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: adults
I'm male, but I thoroughly enjoyed Buck's use of marriage from a woman's point of view to demonstrate human foible, the sensitivities of ego, and the maturation of a life. The story is plainly told, and an easy read, though I would classify it a literary work for its astute writing.
Shannon B
May 01, 2016 Shannon B rated it liked it
Beautifully written novel look at the marriage of two people from very different lives. The author develops the characters so they have difficulty with their separate backgrounds and experiences, but true love and care are the center of the book.
Jan 18, 2015 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Exactly what you would expect from Pearl S Buck. A lovely view into a slice of everyday life. Realistically portrays the ups and downs of life and the strength of family.
Jul 27, 2013 Fredonia7 rated it liked it
Found this on the street. Pearl Buck went to my alma mater so thought I would read it. Doesn't really hold up.
Heathercheryl Stevenson
Jun 07, 2009 Heathercheryl Stevenson rated it really liked it
I read this many years ago and remember enjoying it very much. It is the only book I have ever come across by Pearl Buck that was not set in China. I would like to find it and read it again.
Dec 27, 2015 John rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, fiction, mexico
I guess the title tells all but there was so much more. lots of interesting characters and a very complete history of one family. of course it was very mushy sentimental pearl buck at her best
Jun 22, 2012 Denise added it
Sweet, simple yet complex, and beautiful. I married a man with an artist's soul so I somewhat identify with the challenges the wife, Ruth, faces being married to William.
Fabienne Bogle
Fabienne Bogle rated it really liked it
May 13, 2011
Joanna Dibartolo
Joanna Dibartolo rated it it was amazing
Oct 04, 2016
Amandine rated it liked it
Jul 05, 2015
Lorraine Mammone
Lorraine Mammone rated it liked it
Feb 13, 2016
Sally Waller
Sally Waller rated it it was amazing
Mar 08, 2016
Pammie rated it liked it
Aug 04, 2007
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Pearl Sydenstricker Buck was a bestselling and Nobel Prize–winning author. Her classic novel The Good Earth (1931) was awarded a Pulitzer Prize and William Dean Howells Medal. Born in Hillsboro, West Virginia, Buck was the daughter of missionaries and spent much of the first half of her life in China, where many of her books are set. In 1934, civil unrest in China forced Buck back to the United St ...more
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