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The Good Earth (House of Earth, #1)
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The Good Earth (House of Earth #1)

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  147,301 ratings  ·  6,563 reviews
One of the greatest classics of our time, this is the powerfully moving story of peasant Wang Lung-of the family he founded that would one day become a powerful dynasty; of the gods he implored, sometimes with humility, sometimes with anger; and above all, of the earth that sustained him, the land that he made to prosper against the ravages of nature and the savage attacks ...more
Paperback, 260 pages
Published August 15th 1990 by Pocket (first published 1931)
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Kenny Fisher There used to be beauty standard in China where women who had smaller feet were deemed "more attractive." So some parents would, around each foot, put…moreThere used to be beauty standard in China where women who had smaller feet were deemed "more attractive." So some parents would, around each foot, put tight cloth when they were growing to prevent their feet from getting very big. Note, this practice is VERY dated. This, of course, is no longer the case. But the practice could be comparable to a parent piecing a girl's ears when she is still very young.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Celeste Ng
It's difficult for me to explain how much I hate this book, and even harder to explain why. I don't think it's just because I hated the main character so much, and in this case at least, I don't think it's because of the weirdness that arises from a Westerner writing about a colonized country.

I do know that *part* of my intense dislike for this book comes from how it is viewed by other people (usually non-Chinese). Read the reviews and you'll see one word come up over and over again: "portrait."
...more
Books Ring Mah Bell
THIS BOOK IS ABOUT THE EARTH AND IT IS GOOD.






k.wing
I really, really wish I hadn't google-searched 'foot binding' after reading this book.

In the tradition of a beloved college professor, I give The Good Earth a subtitle which reveals more of the moral stuff which fills it. Ahem. :
The Good Earth: Mo' Money, Mo' Problems.

The Good Earth is packed with cautionary tales of wealth and idleness, tradition and progression, and lust. Wow, the character studies one could do in this book! Just things I noticed:

- The very thing Wang Lung detested, O-lan's
...more
Lucy
Sep 12, 2007 Lucy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Written by Pearl S. Buck, an American citizen who spent most of her childhood and much of her adult life in China, in 1931. It was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1932. I've heard much about it, mostly about a moment in the story when a woman gives birth and then goes back to work in the fields the same day, and have wanted to read it for quite some time.

I think it's always intimidating to read a classic. They are usually reserved for English classes or intellectuals and I worry that my understand
...more
Jr Bacdayan
There is a gush of red, marvelous, and mysterious blood running through my veins. I am part Chinese. A race that has given me these small eyes and this yellowish complexion. A race that I have associated with frugality, hard work, mass production, internet restrictions, and Jackie Chan. China, I've only been there once as a tourist when I was a bit younger. And as much as I'd like to think that I am familiar with the Chinese culture, I have to admit that my knowledge about that is limited and my ...more
Kemper
Treasure of the Rubbermaids 6: Made in China

The on-going discoveries of priceless books and comics found in a stack of Rubbermaid containers previously stored and forgotten at my parent’s house and untouched for almost 20 years. Thanks to my father dumping them back on me, I now spend my spare time unearthing lost treasures from their plastic depths.

I bitch about having to mow my lawn, but when I’m done, I usually sit on my deck and have a few ice cold beers. Then I take a hot shower and get in
...more
Peter Tieryas
I found this to be an incredibly moving and humanistic story, full of anger, tragedy, joy, and the elements that make for a great novel. I don't view it as a "Chinese" novel per se, but a story any person in any country can relate to. The writing is beautiful and reads like a parable more than straight documentation or history, which was her intent, and a tribute to many of the old Chinese tales I've read (now reading it at an older age, I see a lot of references and tributes to other Chinese wo ...more
Jeana
This book is a hard one to rate. I found the book difficult to read emotionally, but knew all the while that it was brilliant.

It was sad to see how Wang Lung's obsession with land ruined his potential for happiness. And it seemed that with more money came more difficult problems.

The cycle of the rich House of Hwang turning into the farmer's house-with all its disgusting rich-people habits--was the most brilliant part of all. And it began with him buying that bit of land even before all the rea
...more
Adrienne
I couldn't put this book down. It was very informative about pre-revolutionary Chinese culture. But even more than that, it was an interesting emotional journey. In the beginning, Wang Lung's character seems so simple and kinda static, albeit respectable. But as the novel progresses, his character becomes more and more complex, more and more human. It was hard for me to really define my opinion of him when it was all over. It wasn't as simple as just hating him because there was also a part of h ...more
Joshua
This is a very unsentimental look at life in rural, pre-revolutionary China. Though she is American, Pearl Buck maintains an objective stance regarding Chinese cultural practices from the time, including foot-binding and the enslavement of women. Yet one encounters the unspoken torment of countless generations of women. The wife O-Lan is particularly well-drawn; in her rough-hewn features and ox-like devotion to the earth, the reader intimately feels her tragic solitude.

In Chinese society, she
...more
Heather
When the earth suffers, women suffer-- when women suffer the earth suffers. I think this is what Buck captured so beautifully in her book. She is a brilliant feminist writer!

Through her character O-lan, Buck makes the argument that all of man's (in the story Wang-lung)increase and prosperity comes because of his reliance on the "good earth", which refers not only to his land but also to his good woman. Without his woman he would have had none of the prosperity he enjoys! The tragedy is that he d
...more
Henry Avila
Wang Lung on his wedding day gets up at dawn as usual.A poor Chinese farmer's son.Who lives with his widowed old father.But he is a very hardworking,strong,young and ambitious man.They occupy, a three room house made of dirt bricks.With a straw thatched roof.After getting his ill father hot water ,feeding the ox and doing the rest of the chores.Wang for the second time in the year,takes a bath secretly,with the precious water .Ashamed to waste it, for such an unnecessary thing. Hiding from his f ...more
Becky
I probably would never have picked this book up had it not been chosen by a friend for a group read. Honestly, I don't go for Chinese lit very much, but I agreed to read this one, even though I was prepared to be bored at least. But I downloaded the audio version, read by Anthony Heald, and listened to the book while doing some much needed organizational stuff, and it was surprisingly good. I enjoyed the reading so much that I would sometimes stop doing stuff to just listen.

I think that had I r
...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
The first time I read this book I was thirteen years old. All I remembered about it was that it was about a Chinese farmer and I liked it. This second time through I could see how so much went past me when I read it as a youth with no life experience. Now, as a grown-up, I was able to appreciate the depth of the characters' feelings and the storytelling gifts of Pearl Buck. The book was first published in 1931, but it's written in what could almost be termed a classical style. The great beauty o ...more
LeAnn
Sep 30, 2007 LeAnn rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers of classics
I have to start by saying that I'm glad that I didn't know anything about this book or read any of the reviews first. It's nice not to be influenced sometimes, especially as some of what I see as worthwhile qualities other people don't. For instance, I appreciated the pace of the book. I wouldn't have said that it was "too long and wordy" as I've read in other reviews, but then I know that literary styles and tastes change and this book was written nearly 100 years ago.

I also had no problem with
...more
Sammy
Okay, after Anna Karenina, Oprah and her Book Club owed me (and most likely the rest of the Book Club members) big time. Perhaps that's why she chose The Good Earth as the next book for the infamous group to read. I can say that I am officially pardoning Oprah of any wrong-doing with Anna thanks to this new book. This book could easily have been a boring and uninteresting read, but Pearl S. Buck writes in such an amazingly simplistic manner that somehow you are immediately sucked in.

It helps to
...more
Jim
I've heard of this book for years & am glad I finally got around to listening to it. Not bad, although not quite what I was expecting. To start, it's told in the fashion of a fable, even though it's set around 1900 in China. The narrative was simplified to exclude many details, the most glaring of which is there seems to be no taxation or government oversight of any sort. That detracted from the attempts at realism.

I really liked & empathized with the love of & importance of the land
...more
Andy Burkhardt
This books was very Taoist in my opinion. It showed the waxing and waning of life. When things got really bad they started to get better. When things were good, there were always problems. It is a great look at not just Pre-Revolutionary China, but life in general.
Adam Crossley
Have you experienced great and surprising changes over the course of your life?

The Good Earth follows Wang Lung and his family as they make a surprising journey through the 20th century, from impoverished farmers to wealthy landowners. Wang Lung’s success is rooted in the hard work of his silent but loyal wife O-lan, who he underappreciates. The story captures the entire arc of Wang Lung’s life and as a by-product captures much of the fascinating history of China during this time period.

One thi
...more
thewanderingjew
I had forgotten most of the tale until I picked it up again to reread and I am overwhelmed by the hardship and futility of the lives of the characters. Their hopelessness coupled with their fortitude, that often goes unrewarded, is devasting. The writing appears almost simplistic but the message is so profound. As I read I am aware of the seeds that are being planted for the Cultural Revolution. The poverty and ignorance led to so much jealousy and greed.
Sometimes the book frightens me because
...more
colleen the contrarian  ± (... never stop fighting) ±
2 1/2

I bounced between 2 and 3 stars, finally deciding to just meet it half-way.

As I said in the comments of one of my statuses, I found parts of the book interesting, but I didn't really enjoy it, per se. It wasn't as boring as I thought it might be, and that was good, but I also had a hard time connecting with the characters, especially because Wang Lung isn't particularly likable half the time, even if what he does is realistic and understandable from a 'human nature' perspective.

I did feel
...more
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads)
This book is a piece of literature that flows and that immerses the reader in the story. It was a required read for Sophomore English in High School, but I wanted to read it and finish it, because the writing is so effortless and involving. I love Asian culture, and this is a must read if you are at all interested in China and the lives of people in the history of China. It is the story of one family and their struggles. At times heartbreaking, but always involving, a reader will never forget th ...more
Felina
Firstly, I'm really sorry Kathy!! I know you love this book but I have to be honest.

I hated this book.

I guess I'm just not a fan of reading books where all women are worthless fools and all men are ill tempered perverts. The only character I didn't want to throttle was O'lan who had a horrible life and was treated terribly. *sigh* This book epically bummed me out. I feel gross. I'm really angry with it. I want to throw it away instead of try to trade it on PBS just so I can get some closure on i
...more
Kaye
I've always wanted to read this book and really had no idea what it was about. Now I know. Some of it was difficult - the way they treat baby girls/women in China - but that was a learning experience for me. The book was really great at driving home the message that you have to appreciate what you have, no matter how big or how small, without getting prideful about it. It also reinforced the work ethic I was taught - that you work hard and enjoy the results.
Cherie
I am so happy I finally read it. It was an amazing story of a family in rural China and of a good man at his very beginning and at his ending. A simple farmer and a piece of land. It tells of his journey, with his wife, to have a family and to live through famine, floods, loss and wealth.

The narration by Anthony Heald was exemplary.

Nada Elfeituri
4.5 stars

Right, so the description of the book sounds boring enough, the chronicles of the life of your average Chinese farmer. I probably would have never even given it a second glance had not a friend of mine say it was one of his favorite books. This is a guy who gets bored extremely easy, so I definitely had to give it a read.

And now, after reading it, I still couldn't give a better description of the book. The language is bare and straightforward, the story moves at an average pace and the
...more
Cecily
This is an engaging family history, and the way an unsympathetic character mellows is well done. However, the fact that Buck's parents were missionaries is demonstrated by a dated writing style that is reminiscent of the King James Bible. Although not preachy in content, I found the tone increasingly incongruous and irritating, though I was still keen to read to the end of the story.

It tells of Wang Lung's life from young adulthood till old age, in rural China before the second world war, though
...more
Inder
This is a gorgeously harsh novel. Or harshly gorgeous? I'm still reeling from the ending. It is a fictional account of the life of a pre-revolutionary man living in China. Beautifully and simply written, if occasionally a little bit colonialist in tone, it is basically a rags-to-riches story. But oh, what a story! It is so believable, so real life. Everything is here - marriage, gender politics, natural disasters, education, markets, incipient capitalism and globalization, revolution, sexual inf ...more
James
I have been rereading The Good Earth by Pearl Buck. For many years this well-known novel was an unexplained void in the inventory of books that I had read. Yet, in less than two years I find myself having read and reread this amazing novel. It is amazing for several reasons, not the least of which is the deceptive simplicity of its' style. The story begins on Wang Lung's wedding day and he remains in the fore of the novel presented to the reader by the narrator as the hero of the story. However, ...more
Theresa
Despite the stupid Oprah Book Club sticker on the front, I loved this book. It has special meaning for me as it is the first book my mom recommended to me as an adult. Just before I was married, I was out shopping with my Mom. She saw this book, put it in my hand and said "You should have this."

Reading, I couldn't help but think of how it came to me. It really made me think about marriage, and what it means to be a partnership in the face of hardship. It may seem like a sad, hard thing to show
...more
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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
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“Now, five years is nothing in a man's life except when he is very young and very old...

- Wang Lung”
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“The rich are always afraid.” 46 likes
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