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The Eternal Wonder

3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  1,076 ratings  ·  184 reviews
A recently discovered novel written by Pearl S. Buck at the end of her life in 1973, The Eternal Wonder tells the coming-of-age story of Randolph Colfax (Rann for short), an extraordinarily gifted young man whose search for meaning and purpose leads him to New York, England, Paris, on a mission patrolling the DMZ in Korea that will change his life forever—and, ultimately, ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published October 22nd 2013 by Open Road Media E-riginal (first published January 1st 2013)
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41st out of 142 books — 48 voters
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5th out of 10 books — 7 voters

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Community Reviews

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Finally published after 40 years, this last book by award-winning author Pearl Buck (The Good Earth) is well-written. It is a study of Rann, who is extremely intellectually gifted, and how these gifts affect his life and relationships. I was drawn in from the first page.
Victor Carson
I have read four of Pearl Buck’s most famous novels: The Good Earth, Sons, Pavilion of Women, and Peony: A Novel of China. I was very interested to learn, therefore, that another previously unknown novel, Eternal Wonder was being published, with a forward by one of the author’s adopted sons, Edgar Walsh. Pearl Buck died about 40 years ago in 1973 at age 80. Her son himself is now about 75 years old. According to Edgar, a handwritten manuscript was found in 2013, together with a typed, slightly r ...more
Nov 11, 2013 Lisa rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: own
I loved The Good Earth, but this book was insufferable. I know I read an unedited proof, but never have I wished for a main character, who is supposed to be a good guy, to be killed off to save the book from itself before. How awful was it? I chose to chat with the guy next to me on a nine hour flight about his pet snake rather than read this book. That bad.
Althea Ann
I loved 'The Good Earth,' when I was a kid. For some reason I never really pursued her other novels - one of those 'always meant to, but never got around to it' things.

So - I was quite excited to get this from Goodreads' First Reads program. (Thank You!)

Unfortunately, this is not a good book.
The introduction (written by Buck's son and literary executor) makes it clear that he's aware of that. I got that feeling that,after having paid to retrieve the manuscript, which was apparently stolen from
This book is so awful that I am embarrassed for Pearl Buck. The plot hangs on so many coincidences and improbabilities, the writing is not subtle or skilled or lyrical or evocative, nothing. The characters are black or white, so in-your-face with their defining characteristic that there is no suspense or wondering left. The over-reaction of Stephanie in the closing chapters in absolutely unbelievable, perhaps the only surprise in the book, though it is without foundation. I only stuck to the end ...more
Lynn Demsky
"The Eternal Wonder tells the coming-of-age story of Randolph Colfax (Rann for short), an extraordinarily gifted young man whose search for meaning and purpose leads him to New York, England, Paris, a mission patrolling the DMZ in Korea that will change his life forever—and, ultimately, to love. Rann falls for the beautiful and equally brilliant Stephanie Kung, who lives in Paris with her Chinese father and has no contact with her American mother, who abandoned the family when Stephanie was six ...more
David Kinchen
BOOK REVIEW: 'The Eternal Wonder': Pearl Buck's Last Novel Manuscript Discovered in Texas Storage Unit

Acclaimed novelist Pearl S. Buck was the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1938 for her body of work. She had previously won the Pulitzer Prize for her most famous novel, "The Good Earth," published in 1931 and a bestseller that year and in 1932 and made into a movie in 1937.

Pearl Comfort Sydenstricker was born on June 26, 1892 in Hillsboro,
It's so unfortunate that Pearl Buck was not able to finish editing this book. I would love to see what it would have become. As it is, I was captivated by this story of a child prodigy nurtured well by loving parents who desired for him to wonder eternally and saw him also as an eternal wonder. Unfortunately, by the time I got to the last 25 pages, my interest dropped right off. I simply did not care how it ended. I skimmed through them to be true to my having read the book, but the end was even ...more
Pearl Buck is one of my favorite authors so when I read that a manuscript of hers had recently surfaced some 40 years after her death, I was naturally curious. The book is readable and I don't question its authenticity because I have no expertise in that area. However, I will never think of this book in the same category as "The Good Earth" or "Fighting Angel", if indeed I think of the book at all.

And for me, that says it all: Pearl Buck's books are unforgettable and this one is not. It is a sm
In the foreword, mention is made that this book could have been improved with some editing and re-writing and I agree. The beginning was too long, the ending was too short. It is classic Buck though and well worth reading.

I felt a connection between Rann's personality and Buck herself--she was a woman of great intelligence. Her explanation of Rann's compulsion to write was revealing. This book takes you on a journey to several countries and Buck provides superb descriptions of the cities Rann v
Angela Schaffer
By popular request, I have reactivated my long-unused goodreads account. You're welcome all! I thus begin my reviews with Pearl S. Buck's recently discovered novel. Just in case you didn't know, The Good Earth is my favorite novel. Therefore, I was excited to learn of this recently discovered treasure. This novel was lost for forty years and recently edited and posthumously released with the assistance of Buck's adopted son. This novels follows the life of Randolph (Rann) Colfax, an exceptionall ...more
Well, I just can't imagine what all the 4 stars are for. Everywhere this kid goes someone is laying out silk pajamas for him, he is a genus, and quite wealthy people are also eager to give their money to him. None of this makes him interesting, he has no real internal/external struggles that make the character someone interesting. The people that enter his life are entertaining but the book itself is boring and dated in funny ways. Don't get me wrong, I love stories that have endured the ages, b ...more
Ji Hun
I like Pearl S. Buck's writing style. It's easy to read and understand, and especially funny. At some point, you forget you're reading a book. That's the experience I had when I read The Good Earth.
Few months ago, I heard that her final novel had been stolen and restored to her family and was going to be published this fall. I was really excited. How could anyone have thought that s/he has a chance to read Pearl S. Buck newly-released novel!
(view spoiler)
This book, with other papers of Pearl S. Buck, disappeared after apparently being stolen around the time of her death in 1973 and found 40 years later in a storage space whose contents were auctioned off for nonpayment of rent. It is now published by the author's daughter, who admits it is flawed; it was edited by her and others.

It has an old-fashioned feel to it, especially regarding the shock and horror expressed by the protagonist at the possibility of a gay relationship, and his mother's ad
Major disappointment. I'm a huge Pearl Buck fan---read The Good Earth multiple times. It is very surprising that this The Eternal Wonder is her last book---reads more like a first attempt at a novel---one written at age 14 when the writer is just cutting her writing teeth, lacking much life experiences to add depth.

The characters were flat--Rann, Stephanie,the mother, the professor--none of them had the subtle, layered paint strokes of Buck's earlier works that let you see right into the depths
I really enjoyed the first 2/3 of this story. I loved his hunger for knowledge and his wonder early on, but felt his wonder dried up and the story shifted towards more of a romance than I was expecting. Buck's writing deserves four stars, but I keep waffling, wondering if it deserves 3 for the ending. It just felt like two different stories. Like when you see a great movie with a disappointing sequel. I just feel like the book I started and the book I finished were two separate books. All in all ...more
Hope Barker
Just finished this book for tomorrow's book club. I hardly know what to say. I am stunned by how bad it is. Granted, the introduction by Pearl Buck's son warns us that it has "rough spots" and "is far from perfect" but that is putting it mildly. The whole style of writing and plot is just weird. It begins with the main character still in utero and marches us through the life of a very unrealistic person as he encounters very unrealistic situations with unrealistic outcomes. It's like a fantasy, ...more
Recovered and published some 40 years after her death, Pearl Buck's 44th novel, a coming-of-age story, explores Rann Colfax's psychological development from pre-birth to young manhood. Buck's simply elegant style engages the reader in discovering the role of wonder in gaining knowledge along with Rann. She also provides insight into the creative psyche. I gathered enough nuggets of wisdom from this book to fill 13 pages in my reading journal. I think everyone with young children and everyone int ...more
Esther Bos
This book was a disappointment to me. Published posthumously, Pearl Buck hadn't revised and fully prepared this novel for publishing. Hopefully, she would have done it differently. After reading and re-reading and enjoying The Good Earth years after it was published, I was hoping to get another good book from this author, but it didn't happen. The characters were not compelling and the story line was weak.

Pearl Buck's son wrote up the story of her life and of the discovery of this nearly finishe
This is supposed to be the coming-of-age story of the brilliant Randolph, where we are present with him from (literally) birth, to early manhood. The way Buck chose to tell the story is incomprehensible to me, though. Randolph is extremely introverted and has basically no friends, so there's very little in the way of dialogue, and yet his internal life also comes across as stunted. He is not precocious in the rambunctious, imaginative, Calvin & Hobbes sort of way that's actually interesting ...more
Kathy's Review:

In the forward, written by Buck’s adopted son, he explains that this manuscript was unfinished and unedited prior to the author’s death. So one can only wonder how “finished” the manuscript was, what tweaks she might have made had she had the chance. He also hints that Buck sprinkled in some tidbits from her personal life in this book, such as a favorite dessert she made.

While the summary above is basically the gist of the plot, this book is much more cerebral than the love story
Debra Anne
Definitely not one of my favorite Pearl Buck books, but she can be forgiven because it was her last book, it wasn't really finished, so we don't know what the final draft would have been like. The beginning of it, starting out with the baby in the womb was such a cliche, that I was nearly lost by the end of the first chapter, but this was Buck, so I gave it a longer chance to prove itself.

In THE ETERNAL WONDER, we meet yet again, THAT PERSON whom so many books feature -- the one on a quest to fi
Gergana Draycheva
Although beautifully told the story might not be everyone's cup of tea. But it was definitely mine :)
Written form the perspective of an all-seеing narrator the book follows closely the growing up of a very perceptive and intelligent man. The focus lies exactly on his perceptions of and interactions with the world around him since he is still a baby in his mothers womb until age of about twenty. I was fascinated by the unprejudiced and insatiable urge for knowledge, experience and independence of
What an interesting find this was--the story is a stolen manuscript of Pearl Buck's that was found and bought by her children and then published. I only knew the bare bones of her life and work and learning more was worth the cheapo price I paid for this download. The story is peculiar in the "what a fun read" way. And I do believe in "eternal wonder."

And just because I can never pass up a chance to tell this story...At the University of Houston I took a class from a newly hired, hifalutin' youn
The manuscript for “The Eternal Wonder” was revealed many years after the writer’s death. It was discovered among the contents of a Fort Worth, Texas public storage unit sold for unpaid rent. When the buyer discovered both a handwritten and typewritten document written by Pearl Buck, she alerted the writer’s family and after some negotiations, sold it to them. They have authenticated it as her work.

It is probably a first or second unedited draft, but in spite of the fact that it is far from per
I just read the last page of this book. I almost read non stop, but it gave me headaches doing so. So much to ponder. So many statements made by Pearl Buck showing a deep love of humans without regard to skin colour or nationality. The beginning is brilliant. Life as experienced by a fetus! Her thoughts on Science and Art were so worth thinking about. Always was and still remain a Pearl Buck fan.
I read this book because it was a Pearl S. Buck book - one that had been found only in the last few years and now is recently published. I have read a few other Buck books and had really enjoyed them, so I was looking forward to reading this one.

Unfortunately, I found the main character of the book, Rann, to be totally unrelatable. His character was flat, and the things he went through in his life also seemed flat and boring.

Rann was a boy genius finishing high school by the time he was 14. Acc
I think this book is a gem, even though Buck never had a chance to revise it. This novel was written by Pearl Buck around 1973, before she died, and the manuscript of it was found by a woman in Texas who had purchased the contents of a storage locker. She wanted to sell the manuscripts and Buck's family was able to negotiate with her for them. This manuscript was sent to them in January 2013. One of her sons, Edgar Walsh, decided to have it edited and published.

This novel follows the life of a
The backstory on this novel makes it worth a read. The foreword is written by Edgar Walsh, her adopted son. Pearl Buck was working on this novel before her death at age eighty in 1973. She had been targeted by individuals who preyed on her fortune, estranging her from her family friends, and publishers. She was virtually bankrupt and her seven adopted children did not have access to her property. The novel, The Eternal Wonder, disappeared for forty years.

After her death, Edgar and his siblings
Published posthumously and largely unrevised, this is the last known work of Pearl S. Buck.

The story doesn't exactly have a plot. It basically takes us through life as experienced by Rann Colfax, a born genius, as he develops and learns from infancy through adulthood.

Buck writes about the joy and loneliness that come from too much wisdom and understanding. Rann can simultaneously be learning and taking in the wonder of everything around him and be perfectly alone and apart from normal society. H
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Pearl Sydenstricker Buck (1892–1973) 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 t ...more
More about Pearl S. Buck...
The Good Earth (House of Earth, #1) Pavilion of Women Imperial Woman Peony Sons (House of Earth, #2)

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“Wandering is never waste, dear boy,' he said. 'While you wander you will find much to wonder about, and wonder is the first step to creation.” 5 likes
“To take each day as a separate page, to be read carefully, savoring all of the details, this is best for me, I think.” 4 likes
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