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

Pearl Buck in China by Hilary Spurling
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's review
Aug 31, 2011

really liked it
Read from August 18 to 30, 2011

I have long believed that fiction is merely "patchwork biography," and Pearl S. Buck only makes it appear so more.

This, perhaps more than any other biography that I've ever read, helped me see the holistic person of an individual we tend to esteem highly based on a small parcel of knowledge. Pearl is known as an author - one who grew up in China - and is especially known for her bestseller The Good Earth. But I never dreamed that she didn't become a writer until her thirties. I never dreamed that the impetus for many of her books, and especially The Good Earth, came from a desire to assuage the weight of emotional baggage she carried and a need to make an extra income to provide for the care of her disabled daughter. I never dreamed she faced so much suffering and pain. I never dreamed that she created such ripple effects of controversy on both sides of the ocean. I never dreamed she never felt at home anywhere she lived probably after the Chinese Revolution when she was 8. Pearl was a true third-culture kid.

It seems that those we see become famous have had to go through some excruciating events, and Pearl is no exception. In some way they're a driving force for the things that made her who she was - who she saw herself as, and who she truly was.

Fascinating life story. If I were told The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara KIngsolver) were written by Pearl Buck, I'd believe it on the basis of her history and thus ability to tell the story well.

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