Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Portrait of a Marriage” as Want to Read:
Portrait of a Marriage
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Portrait of a Marriage

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  1,022 ratings  ·  63 reviews
Buck follows one woman's journey through a long-term marriage; its romanticized beginning, jolts of disillusionments and losses, and peace through acceptance and faith; as a metaphor for life. ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published June 2nd 1975 by Pocket Books (first published January 1st 1940)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.97  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,022 ratings  ·  63 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Portrait of a Marriage
Nandakishore Varma
This was a serendipitous read. I was in India recently, and this old book which was lying about in my reading nook suddenly caught my eye. As I read the blurb, I remembered the story: my great-aunt used to tell it to me often, as a cautionary tale on marrying beneath one's station (maybe she was a bit afraid that I would fall for a pretty face without considering caste and pedigree). On a whim I started reading it, and realised to my surprise that it was much more than the story of an "unsuitabl ...more
Emily Kidd
May 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Since Pearl S. Buck was a MK, I thought this book would be Christian. I was surprised at how much despairing of souls there was in it, like a lostness of one who cannot find the true meaning in life.

Aside from that, it was a good story. Most books go into detail about a certain few years in a characters life… this went from before William even met his wife until his death as an old man, and how his widow coped thereafter.

She was a Proverbs 31 woman to me, living to better his life and keeping
Sep 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Long before the advent of marriage counseling and self-help books about “healing your relationship”, Pearl Buck wrote with astounding psychological insight about the inner workings of a marriage. Portrait of a Marriage follows William and Ruth through 75 years of their relationship, from their first meeting when they fell in love at first sight, through courtship, marriage, conflicts with in-laws, childbirth, disillusionment, mid-life crises, old age, grandchildren, and the inevitable family dra ...more
Lisa Louie
Jul 22, 2009 rated it it was ok
I found a battered copy of this book in musty corner of a used bookstore in Mexico City, and saucily purchased it after reading the cover jacket quotation from the book, something about the husband gasping in horror at the specter of his wife holding a whip in his hand. This, although I knew that since it was Pearl Buck, there wouldn't be anything truly salacious or gratuitous about it. In truth, I've always been curious to discover which elements make a novel timeless and which consign them to ...more
Kathie Kuehl
Jan 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Good read although some of the language was a little stilted since it was written in 1941. Story of the courtship and almost 50 years of marriage of William (from a wealthy family, educated, and a promising painter) and Ruth (a simple, uneducated farm girl). Ruth did everything for William while raising 3 children and running their farm to allow William to lead a life of leisurely painting. They were totally devoted to each other to the exclusion of their children. I enjoyed this book. A good an ...more
Kathleen Wells
Jul 17, 2019 rated it liked it
One of the challenges in the summer reading program at my library was to read a book from before I was born. Well, I had to go w-a-a-a-y back! This book is from 1941! There is much I like about it: it is a sweet story of the marriage between polar opposites who absolutely love each other throughout the years. But there are things that really did not mean much to me, simply because of the different ways we do things now. I frequently wondered what either of these people saw in the other one!
Dec 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
I had mixed feelings about this book. I love Pearl S. Buck's writing, loved seeing the characters through their long lives, loved Buck's commentary on the process of life and living in a marriage, but the main characters were so strange and selfish. A husband who loved his wife so much that he had little love for his children, his parents, etc. A wife who could only live in her own little world. ...more
Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great insight!

I loved this book as I do so many of Pearl Bucks books.S he had great insight into a long marriage ,having been in one her self.I liked the way she showed
the natural changes that happen in a long union. The story was sweet and comforting .
Marsha Landers
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such a great read

I read her I school but never as an adult. Now in sixties I know what I have been missing. Great reading! Deep and meaningful!
Feb 25, 2020 rated it liked it
I've read a lot of Ms Buck's work. Oddly, this book stuck with me even though I don't find it relatable. I think the books depiction of choices we make in relationships is interesting. ...more
Dec 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have been sprinkling into my reading, various notable books and authors that I feel I should have read already or hear referenced a lot. TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE and UNCLE TOM'S CABIN before this one, Pearl S. Buck's(PSB) PORTRAIT OF A MARRIAGE. PSB is the 1st American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature and I felt I needed to know her work.

I was surprised by this story. Given the setting, early 1900s, rich gentlemen/poor farm girl, I anticipated strife of a different kind, more Dickensian
Lakshmi Mohan
Nov 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read a couple of Pearl S Buck books earlier, hard copies, tattered, borrowed from the city library. Times were simpler then. I was never one to go by book covers. I used to read the back cover, the inside of the jacket, the prologue and then decide if a book should be carried home or not. And if it all it was chosen, the book was respected, given my undivided attention till the last word in it. I even read the acknowledgements religiously. And the 'About the Author', was always my favouri ...more
Patricia Ibarra
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
William, a wealthy painter, is walking in the countryside when he finds a young illiterate farmer, Ruth, who catches his attention. He asks if she can paint her and she accepts. They see each other for several months for this painting. Both fell madly in love and got married, shocking his parents for marrying a girl so beneath his education and means, but he does not care. The author proposes a very interesting marriage arrangement that worked perfectly well for them. William gave up everything ...more
Georgette Haydu
Jul 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had read Pearl Buck as a girl, The Good Earth and one other set in China, and I enjoyed them. So I decided to look at this one written about life in Western culture and might pick up a few more. She has great insight into human relationships and paints a rich picture of the lives of one couple. Her characters are not perfect human beings. They have faults and foibles like we all do. But she certainly captures what love is about and how a relationship lasts, in spite of doubts, and love grows t ...more
Nancy DeLuca
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I just cannot get enough of Pearl S. Buck! She is an amazing author and develops characters like no other. This is the story of an artist's life, William Barton, and the choices he made throughout his life. Born into a wealthy, powerful Philadelphia family, William chooses to spend his life with the love of his life, Ruth, on a Pennsylvania farm. The story is tender and tough at the same time. ...more
MaryAnn Lockey
Jun 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Wonderful Classic

I would love to share this with my book club but I have yet to have heard anyone share a classic. So much to talk about. Maybe because I have lived a life time and felt that part of me has never been shared because it has never been needed. Were William and Ruth selfish? We're they really happy? Did represent each other? I've convinced myself- I have to share this with my book club.

Oct 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! The tenderness expressed in the relationship between the main characters is heart-warming. Compared to modern novels where relationships seem shallow and artificial, this novel explores the inner workings of marriage complete with the insecurities and doubts of loving ones' spouse deeply and completely. ...more
Feb 10, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the first Pearl Buck I have read. I enjoyed her writing style. It was definitely a slow paced, laid back type of novel that was exactly what the title said it would be. -- a portrait of a marriage. The characters were complex individuals despite their simple lifestyle. I will definitely try another one of her books.
Jan 18, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Portrait of a Marriage

I enjoyed The Good Earth when I read it several years ago and anticipated a similar engaging read with another Buck novel. Such was not the case. This is a slow -moving account of a long marriage between people from two social classes who manage to stay together and grow more deeply in love. End of story.
Apr 21, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I have read other Pearl Buck books and they have been much better. This one was a bit of a disappointment. I didn't like the characters. Ruth seemed to have no self respect and her husand was a narcissist. He was only about himself. Not likeable characters. To Pearl Buck fans I would suggest skipping this one. ...more
Aug 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read most of Pearl Bucks books. She is able to capture personalities with such deep understanding. This book is one of those that you enter into the rooms of their home and "watch" their progression from young love to the death of one of them. It was a pleasure to re-read this book. I recommend this if you like generational stories. ...more
Jill Berry
Apr 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a short book that was rather a slow read. It needed to be a bit slow to demonstrate the simplicity/complexity of the marriage. I would say it was a good, solid read. I will most likely reread it at a later time.
May 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
I enjoy Pearl Buck's writing, but had not read anything other than Asian culture books. This is a story about a marriage between a rich painter and a farm girl. This is the story of their marriage and clash or cultures. I enjoyed it. ...more
May 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good read.

Pearl S Buck is 1 of my very favorite authors.I have read that was not based on Asia. I enjoyed the novel and love her writing. I hope to 1 day read all her books however I do prefer the ones on Asian culture.
Jun 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A very intimate look at what really counts in marriage, and a good story.
Kathy Ebbert
Feb 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
An old-fashioned love story.
Jul 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Omg one of the best books ever for me. Really delves into characters
May 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club
Plot could have been interesting, but the writing was boring.
The Kirkus 1945 review is worth reading.
Deb Grove
Sep 11, 2019 rated it liked it
I am on the fence with this one. I might have given it a 4. An unusual look at a marriage.
Carol Trautvetter
First time reader of Pearl S. Buck. Not sure what I was expecting but I love her writing and will read more of her.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Likely Resolutions of Oliver Clock
  • Galileo
  • The Secret Letter
  • Mörkertal (A-gruppen, #8)
  • Mother Courage and Her Children
  • Secrets & Lies (Lies #4)
  • The Watanabe Name
  • Vegas Lies (Lies #3)
  • See Jane Run
  • Secrets of Willow House (Sandy Cove, #1)
  • Fatal Lies (Lies #2)
  • The Girl Next Door
  • Never Let Go (Uncommon Justice #1)
  • The Christmas Secret
  • Lucy Crown
  • Betrayed
  • The Complete Stories of Evelyn Waugh
  • Captain Alatriste (Adventures of Captain Alatriste, #1)
See similar books…
Pearl Comfort Sydenstricker Buck Walsh (Pearl S. Buck) was a bestselling and Nobel Prize–winning author. Her classic novel The Good Earth (1931) was awarded a Pulitzer Prize and William Dean Howells Medal. Born in Hillsboro, West Virginia, Buck was the daughter of missionaries and spent much of the first half of her life in China, where many of her books are set. In 1934, civil unrest in China for ...more

Related Articles

Thirty-four years after the publication of her dystopian classic, The Handmaid's Tale, Atwood returns to continue the story of Offred. We talked...
367 likes · 59 comments