Carol's Reviews > Pearl Buck in China: Journey to The Good Earth

Pearl Buck in China by Hilary Spurling
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Jun 15, 2010

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Read in June, 2010

I enjoyed most of the novels of Pearl Buck. She seemed to catch the essence of behavior patterns of Chinese, Japanese and Koreans, and how they are different, and described them lovingly. She was particularly interested in ordinary, poor people, as in her masterpiece, "The Good Earth". This volume is a biography covering her childhood as daughter of a single-minded missionary bent on converting the heathens but not interested in understanding them. The missionary's wife had a rough time, living in poverty, surviving uprisings. Pearl's playmates were the local poor Chinese children, so she grew up speaking Chinese. Pearl is not altogether a sympathetic character. She married an agricultural missionary who did a great deal of good, but was not an intellectual, and Pearl eventually divorced him, but to the reader, that act was never really explained, he was a good decent man, just not a prince charming. Perhaps it was a foreshadowing of her unreasonable old age. Pearl came to depend on her American publisher, whom she married, who took care of holding back the adoring hordes and so on. The young woman Pearl, plainly dressed and coifed, would have been shocked if she could have glimpsed the old woman Pearl, who became a grande dame in costly outfits reveling in luxury. That's a side of Pearl I had never before read about. I wondered about her sanity.
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