This was impressive. It is one of those books you start and think you should dump .....then slowly, bit by bit, you find yourself liking it more and mThis was impressive. It is one of those books you start and think you should dump .....then slowly, bit by bit, you find yourself liking it more and more. I recommend this book, but who is it for? It is for a reader interested in cultural differences. This is about an immigrant Chinese American family. The author's father immigrated to the US. She was born in the US in 1922. It is an autobiography of the first 24 years of her life. She is an impressive woman – here check out this snapshot: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show.... It takes you through the Depression and WW2. The central theme portrays with clarity an inside view of a Chinese family living in the US. In San Francisco’s Chinatown. A Chinese family that starts out as Chinese in thought, tradition and customs as you can get. You watch as they acclimatize to their new surroundings. The process is infinitesimally slow for her parents, faster for the daughter born and raised in the States. What is it like to be caught in two different worlds? I adored learning about the Chinese traditions at the same time as I was horrified by some antiquated beliefs. You end up seeing both he good and the bad of both the American and the Chinese culture. You watch a family find a middle road. You follow the author to the point where she is able to appreciate both her own heritage and the opportunities afforded by American life. Extremely satisfying. She becomes a (view spoiler)[writer and a pottery craftsman with a shop of her own (hide spoiler)].
- I particularly loved watching how her father and finally her mother changed. -I particularly enjoyed learning about Chinatown in San Francisco. I loved stepping inside shops - a watchmaker's, a cobbler’s. My all-time favorite was inside a Chinese herbalist store.
The beginning is extremely simplistic. I thought I had picked up a child's book. Don‘t be deterred.
The audiobook narration by Andi Arndt was very good. Easy to follow. That is all I want form an audiobook narration. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
There are so many reasons why I should have liked this more than I did.
The book was published in 1941. The Second World War had not yet ended. The NaThere are so many reasons why I should have liked this more than I did.
The book was published in 1941. The Second World War had not yet ended. The Nanjing Massacre and the subsequent occupation by the Japanese is the central theme of the book. In 1948 the International Military Tribunal for the Far East estimated that over 200,000 Chinese were killed in the six weeks of the massacre, beginning on December 13, 1937 when the Japanese captured Nanjing. Other estimates set the death toll to 350,000. Japanese occupation and atrocities continued for more than seven years. Think about that. Even today the Japanese do not admit guilt for past actions.
The plot follows a farm family in rural China, near Nanjing. The events are hard to read despite the fact that Pearl S. Buck's writing is not graphic. Old traditions, obligatory respect for elders, illiteracy and male dominance are the rule. I was impressed by Buck's knowledge of the massacre, given the date of the book's publication. Other much more recent books cite events that are mentioned here in this early book by Buck (1892-1973). Born to American missionaries, she spent much of her life before the age of 40 in China. In 1935 she returned to the US, but continued to write and support women’s rights and Asian cultures. As a book of historical fiction, it certainly captures the Chinese way of life outside of the cities. It helps to know the author to know what to expect from the book. Women are strong and there is respect for the Chinese culture. The expansion of communism is not covered.
However, I did not love the book. I felt that The Good Earth, for which Buck won the Pulitzer fin 1932 and subsequently the Nobel Prize in 1938, has better lines. Her love of the land is more vivid in the earlier book. There, some of the lines almost read as poetry. Here, in Dragon Seed, Buck has a message to deliver. In both books the style is simplistic, which I like, but tied with Buck’s clear attempt to deliver a message of the atrocities taking place the text takes on the tone of a school lecture. I saw the forefinger pointed over and over again. She wants us to understand certain things and in making her point crystal clear the beauty of her simple lines is lost. She speaks of love and family and morals. She speaks of the importance of tilling the land. Ownership is not by deed but rather to he who cares for the land. However, I felt I was being lectured. I felt as though I was being told a story, rather than experiencing it. I never felt close to any of the characters.
I became acquainted with Buck’s views in her earlier book and I have read quite a bit about the Nanjing massacre, so I simply didn’t get as much from this one. I highly recommend Iris Chang’s The Rape of Nanking. In 2004 this author committed suicide most probably due to the pressure put on her in Japan. Chang’s book is non-fiction. Buck’s is historical fiction. Both are informative. Both are difficult to read, but Buck’s is wider. You get love affairs and family relationships. There was too much coincidental in the fictive story for my taste.
Just one word of warning, if you cannot deal with the reality of the massacre, rape and torture, you might as well just skip the book, but I feel that is very wrong. It is everyone’s duty to be informed of the Nanjing Massacre.
The audiobook narration by Adam Verner was simple to follow. ...more
I noticed right away when I began the book that Pearl S. Buck's writing style was special. The language is simple and clear, but at the same time emotI noticed right away when I began the book that Pearl S. Buck's writing style was special. The language is simple and clear, but at the same time emotive. There isn't a wasted word. There is a quietness in the lines that fills you with emotion. You watch a traditional, hard-working family, one very much tied to the soil, struggling to make something of themselves. The historical details are diffuse; I would guess that the story is set in the first decades of the 1900s. The book was published in 1931 and the time period covered probably ends in the thirties, when the central character Wang Lung is in his 70s. The book is in fact the first of a trilogy. The author, Pearl S. Buck, won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1938.
So what is the story about? A young Chinese couple, Wang Lung and O-lan, begin with nothing. The marriage was arranged and they knew nothing of each other. This book follows their lives and their children. Grandchildren are born but their lives are for the next books of the trilogy. For me, the story reads as an allegorical tale about the ups and downs of life. It is about how we change as we pass from childhood to adulthood and finally old age. It is also about the value of land. It cannot be stolen, as gold or silver or gems can be stolen. It gives sustenance, and it gives pleasure. Working the land gives a purpose to life and immense satisfaction.
The traditions and customs of China are beautifully drawn - clothing and food, marriages and birth and death, yearly celebrations, sexual discrimination. Customs are drawn so you see how the Chinese people feel about their own traditions. How do they see concubines and foot-binding and beauty. And ugliness. Book learning and war and famine. The role and status of the elderly, the position of the eldest son, the daughters, the retarded. What was it like to grow up in China in the early 1900s as one of the multitude? And what is success? The reader recognizes that which is common to all people and that which is specific to life in China.
When I began listening I wasn't thrilled with the narration by George Guidall, but it grew on me. I ended up really liking it. The lines are read slowly and movingly. Nice long pauses. Time to ponder. Time to shed a tear before the story continues.
I came to care deeply for Wang Lung and O-lan, but not for any of the other characters. This is why I hesitate to continue with the trilogy. This was a good story, movingly told, by an author that has a unique way of saying things simply, quietly and powerfully. The story itself isn't exceptional, but how it is told is....more
This is an utterly delightful book. I recommend it.
You need different books for different moods. This book will make you happy. I think it's becauseThis is an utterly delightful book. I recommend it.
You need different books for different moods. This book will make you happy. I think it's because it is optimistic, that isn't to say bad things are excluded from its pages. That is far from true. The book is exciting - bandits, a fire, shootings.
This is a biographical novel about the Chinese woman Lalu Nathoy (1853-1933), sold to bandits by her beloved father for the mere sum of two bags of seeds. I intentionally wrote “beloved father”. He was not a bad man, but the times were bad. Soon after, in 1872, she was smuggled into the US through San Francisco and re-sold for 2.500 USD. To whom? To a wealthy Chinese named Hong King, owner of a saloon at the mining camp in Warrens, Idaho. It was the era of the Gold Rush. Just guess what her job was to be.
What happens next is the central part of the book. How did she become Polly Bemis? What was it like to be Chinese in America at the turn of the century? This is after the Civil War. Blacks were free. Right? Well on paper. What about the Chinese? We are looking at a strong woman who valued freedom. Also a child/woman without family, without kin, without country. Who did she come to be? What did she make of her life?
The story is told very simply but covers such deep issues. Freedom. Independence and self-sufficiency. Bound feet. Rape. Chinese immigrants in the American West. Pioneer life. Friendship. Love and happiness and regrets. Aging.
The narration by Emily Zeller was very well done. Her intonations reflect men, women and children equally well. Easy to follow.
Sometimes you need to hear of a person who makes something of their life…. against all odds. The beauty of the telling is that the story is told simply, without fuss, without exaggeration. Without shrieks and exclamations. A woman, a good woman, who quietly and unobtrusively shaped her own life and those around her.
Three stars? Four stars? If you ask me if I liked the book, my immediate response is, “Yes, I really liked it! “ So I ought to give it four. Can’t a simply told story be worthy of four stars? Somehow I think three is better. ...more
Audiobook is narrated by Simon Vance. I bet if I read it it would get three stars. I gave The Samurai's Garden three stars. How many would I give "A HAudiobook is narrated by Simon Vance. I bet if I read it it would get three stars. I gave The Samurai's Garden three stars. How many would I give "A Hundred Flowers" if I listened to it with Simon Vance? I might test this!...more
On completion: No, this was not a total waste of time. This novel is based on real events. It is about what actually happened in December 1937 in an AOn completion: No, this was not a total waste of time. This novel is based on real events. It is about what actually happened in December 1937 in an American church which housed Chinese soldiers, prostitutes and 16 naive schoolgirls while the Japanese invaded and massacred all and everyone in Nanjing. The events are gripping. I wanted to know what would happen in the end. Read this book for the plot, NOT for the writing style. Terrible writing. The author picks all the wrong words.
The audiobook narration by Samanth Quan, is neither exceptionally bad nor good, but when you listen to every word you certainly notice how the words chosen by the author are completely off. Only read this book to find out about the Nanjing Massacre through a short book of historical fiction. This is not a book to choose if you are looking for good writing. Character development is superficial. Choose it if you want a quick, exciting book tied to real events that took place during the massacre.
I have listened to about half the book. I feel every line irritates me. It is the words chosen by the author that irritate me. The words seem inappropriate, wrong and unsuitable. I'm much picker about the words an author uses than the plot line. If strange things happen I reason that life is strange, weird things do happen, but if the author throws inappropriate words in my face I get terribly irritated.
So far this book feels like a total waste of time. A huge disappointment.