Pat's Reviews > Pavilion of Women: A Novel of Life in the Women's Quarters

Pavilion of Women by Pearl S. Buck
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's review
Dec 08, 2011

really liked it
Read in November, 2011

I thought this was a very intriguing and thought provoking book. Madam Wu,the main character has it all: wealth, beauty, intelligence, knowledge, experience, and wisdom; as well as a husband who adores her and children who love her, seek out her advice, usually heed her, and at times fear her. She also enjoys the respect and admiration of close friends and and the greater community. She is the ultimate problem solver who knows how to and does arrange everyone's affairs. But when she turns 40, she decides to make a monumental decision: she no longer wishes to be intimate with her husband whom she married when she was 16.

Meanwhile, a chance encounter with a priest who is tutoring her son changes her life forever and as result of the friendship that develops between them, she learns what love truly means. The author weaves a remarkable and exquisite tale that resounds with love as exemplified in the bible in the human yet divine person of Jesus Christ. However, she does this with such grace and sublety the reader scarcely realizes what is going on. Ms. Buck after all was the child of Christian missionaries to China. I loved how the priest turned Madame Wu's life upside down but all for the better. By being so attuned to loving his fellow men, he showed her how crucial love is to one's existence, and it opened her life to possibilities she could never have envisioned.

Ms. Buck is a master story teller who possesses a great degree of wisdom and grace. This is evident in the knowing yet sensitive manner with which each character becomes not just someone who falls within Madame Wu's perfectly preportioned life but a fully realized person who has hopes and ambitions that may not always conform to her dictates. Ultimately, love causes many unexpected changes in Madame Wu.

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