Bobbi's Reviews > Pearl Buck in China: Journey to the Good Earth

Pearl Buck in China by Hilary Spurling
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Nov 27, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: biography
Read from November 25 to 27, 2010

This has to be one of the best biographies I've ever read. It was riveting. Spurling's prose made it read almost like a novel, and a very good novel at that. It doesn't matter if you've read anything by Pearl Buck, you will want to when you're done. I've read The Good Earth but will reread it with a completely new eye next time.

Pearl's early life was lonely, harrowing and disturbing. Her father's missionary zeal and her mother's unhappiness left her with no one but her younger sister, Grace. Four of her six siblings died of diseases commonly found in China at the turn of the century. The family lived through civil unrest, famines, and wars. They stayed in China through the terrifying Boxer Revolution, hiding out in a mud hut. They were surrounding by grinding poverty. Pearl considered herself more Chinese than American throughout her life and said she thought in Chinese, not English.

Seeing her parents' loveless marriage, Pearl was determined to marry for love. Lossing Buck was an agriculturist and moved to China to find ways to increase crop production. Like Pearl's father, however, his work came above all else and loneliness once again took over her life.

As Buck's wife, Pearl wrote articles and short stories but never published a novel. It was to support her handicapped daughter that she finally produced The Good Earth. Pearl's life in China showed her how bigotry and hatred could affect people and spent her life in America championing civil rights.

I hope this outstanding biography piques people's interest in Pearl Buck once again. China's importance in today's world cannot be understated and Pearl's writing will help us to understand its reawakening.

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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Maria (new)

Maria I've never read her Pavillion of Women but The Good Earth is so deeply moving and wonderful on all fronts, isn't it? I think that kind of introspection can only come from a place of loneliness-solitude, but I'd no idea her life was so difficult. Thanks for this review.


Bobbi I'm now on a Pearl Buck kick and have a couple of her other books in my stack to read. Most of her books are in large part autobiographical, although not as well received as The Good Earth. I read Sons, the next in the Good Earth trilogy and now have A House Divided. Yes, I loved The Good Earth. China has such a fascinating history.


message 3: by Maria (last edited Jan 05, 2011 12:27PM) (new)

Maria Reading Pearl is an excellent way to learn about it, too. (Too bad you're not liking Frida K.)


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