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Pavilion of Women

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  11,229 ratings  ·  854 reviews
On her fortieth birthday, Madame Wu carries out a decision she has been planning for a long time: she tells her husband that after twenty-four years their physical life together is now over and she wishes him to take a second wife. The House of Wu, one of the oldest and most revered in China, is thrown into an uproar by her decision, but Madame Wu will not be dissuaded and ...more
Paperback, 466 pages
Published May 1st 1995 by Moyer Bell and its subsidiaries (first published 1946)
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Laura Yes. She represents a limited view of spirituality... essentially, she has religion but no spirituality. She is selfish in her spiritual views,…moreYes. She represents a limited view of spirituality... essentially, she has religion but no spirituality. She is selfish in her spiritual views, because she thinks that anyone who thinks differently than how she thinks is misguided and ignorant. She is direct contrast to Andre who sees God everywhere and who teaches a selfless love that respects and honors the differences between people.(less)
Adrian Foster I believes she effectively represents one strand of the Western influence in China at the time. The modernisation of China is represented by the…moreI believes she effectively represents one strand of the Western influence in China at the time. The modernisation of China is represented by the attitudes of the wives of her second and third sons and Little Sister Hsia represents the missionary influence.
She serves to illustrate the enormous gulf between one of the major western influences in China at the time and the paradigm of the privileged, rural Chinese. This book is about attitudes and clashing cultures. Little Sister Hsia has a small but important role . Indeed the fact that she plays such a small part in the story effectively illustrates how little impact the Christian missionary effort had on the nation and it's thought, regardless of the importance it had back in the West.(less)

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4.12  · 
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 ·  11,229 ratings  ·  854 reviews


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Jo Ann

My personal belief is that some books wait for us to come along and discover them they lie quietly, patiently, waiting for years maybe for the correct moment in our lives to be found. This book is one of them for me. I'll admit if I was to have read this book say 20 years ago I probably would not have enjoyed it so much or been able to appreciate the philosophical deepness of it. This book felt like it had waited for me to pick it up at just the right moment. I don't think I have ever read a boo
...more
Jesse
Mar 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
I was surprised to get so drawn into Pearl S. Buck's "Pavilion of Women." Buck has a subtle writing style that transcends time, making you forget that the book was written in 1946. Though I was intrigued to read it, given that Buck received both a Nobel and Pulitzer prize.

"Pavilion of Women" follows a mother and wife "Madame Wu" who, on her 40th birthday, chooses to provide her husband with a concubine instead of ever allowing him back into her physical world. There is absolutely nothing bad I c
...more
Alice Poon
Oct 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This novel deeply moved me, not only because Pearl Buck illustrates in it her sweeping knowledge and sympathetic views of the Chinese society in early- to mid-20th century, but also because of the humanistic attitudes and nuanced philosophies that color and enliven her characters.

This particular époque in China is one of East-West cultural clashes coming to the surface as the younger generations begin to seriously contemplate a clean break from the yoke of old Chinese traditions and customs and
...more
Ivana Books Are Magic
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book has touched me so deeply, that I cannot help feeling a strike of destiny in the way it came into my hands. I started reading it, blissfully unaware of both the plot and what it might be like. Pavilion of Women has proven to be such a beautiful reading surprise. I must have read it in one breath, or at least, that is what reading it felt like. Once I started it, I just couldn't stop reading. I cannot express how much I enjoyed this novel. It is a truly remarkable portrayal of a woman's ...more
Caroline
Sep 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
This is a story is set in pre-Communist China, just before and during the Second World War. It is centred around a wealthy old-fashioned family called Wu, and explores the psychology of the different relationships between members of this extended family. The central figure of the story is Madame Wu -intelligent, cool, self-possessed and ordered, she runs a large household of over 60 people, with great efficiency – but always in a very understated and subtle way. She also oversees the administrat ...more
Becky
My thoughts on Pavilion of Women:

At the beginning I found myself strangely interested in this book; its really not my cup of tea. I was shocked, and I was thinking to myself, “is this really going to be a four star book?” I had trouble putting the book down. Then, at about three-quarters through I realized that what I liked about the book didn’t really have anything in particular to do with the book itself or the author.

I liked all the parts about the Chinese culture, everything was surprising t
...more
Rachel Terry
Mar 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Rarely have I read a book that has made me think so deeply about relationships and ideas that I take for granted every day. Andre, the foreign priest, is surprised that Madame Wu has learned so much about the world within her small sphere of daily life, the high walls of her compound. Andre has seen much of the world and speaks many languages, but Madame Wu keeps up with his intellect and ideas, and this is surprising to him. She explains that everything that happens out in the world happens in ...more
Stacy
May 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
>spoiler alert<

Very good, but sad. A book of striking contrasts, Madame Wu married for many years to a man in the traditional Chinese way, living in Victorian China, that she feels distant and in a sense, isolated from. The way of life does not do much for the feeling of intimacy with one's spouse-- all interactions are basically formal. She in a sense doesn't feel a connection with her husband-- oh, she honors, respects and is completely loyal to him, but she has a deep desire to learn,
...more
Michele
Sep 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just had the best experience with this book. Pearl S. Buck is a wonder and she deserves every award she ever got and more. I was suprised how quickly I got to know Madam Wu and I really felt like I knew her; like we could sit down and talk for hours.
Brilliantly done and written with superb style and grace. I liked it tons better than "The Good Earth."
Loved this thought about Adam and Eve: Because he knew that her mind and her heart were fixed not upon the man, but upon the pursuance of life." h
...more
Aubrey
I absolutely adore Pearl S. Buck's writing. That being said, I shall have to go through her entire bibliography in order to satisfy myself. Her prose is a warm bath, complete with the small insights and revelations that often come to one during luxurious respite. 'Pavilion of Women' presents a woman with unparalleled logic and self-control, but who also is ignorant of how coldly she views the rest of the world, those who lack her intelligence and strength of will. Through the course of the novel ...more
Sarah
Apr 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Pearl Buck's writings about China take me back to a place I visited long ago. Her stories and characters are absolutely engrossing; this was no exception. Sometimes a book is full of quotes that I can't resist noting, and this was one of those:

"... Madame Wu had long ago learned that the affairs of a great household must be managed one by one and in order.... She had tried to [do sometihng else]... and Heaven had prevented it. The time was not ripe, therefore. And as she had learned to do, while
...more
Petra
May 23, 2016 rated it liked it
A warm and interesting story. Madame Wu is a thoughtful, interesting woman and she runs her household with care and ability.
I liked the insight into upper Chinese culture and lifestyle. Madame Wu takes an unconventional path when on her 40th birthday she reclaims her life and walks away from her marriage bed, freeing herself from her wifely duties and intending to spend the rest of her days in study and contemplation.
The teachings of Father Andre are simple and respectful of all life forms and
...more
Calzean
Pre-Communist China but the times are changing. Madame Wu leads a traditional life running her family, extended family, various adopted/orphans and a cast of servants. The author recreates the traditions with great depth, clarity and without judgement.
But the book is also about the various relationships between Madame Wu and her husband, their children, in-laws, friends and servants. The book is also about how people change as they age and hopefully, like Madame Wu, use their experiences wisely
...more
Sue
Nov 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
Initially I want to say that I received this book through the Goodreads First Reads program.

This book has added to an area that I know needs strengthening for me, knowledge of the life of Chinese people. It is set in mid 20th century, prior to WWII, a time of change around the world and a time of growing change in China. It is the story of cultural and personal transition. Pearl Buck writes from her knowledge of the country and her knowledge as a woman.

We see all that happens through the eyes of
...more
CS
Aug 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics
I give Pavilion of Women five stars not for it's execution (though I don't think it's written poorly) but for it's insight and depth and humanity and love.

If someone were to ask me, "what sort of person should I be?" I would advise them to read Pavilion of Women, to learn from Madame Wu's learning, and to take to heart Brother Andre's wisdom. Meditate on the change in Madame Wu, on her successes and setbacks, and see the way in which she came to live her life. All that Brother Andre says, ponder
...more
Mia
Jun 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-classics
This fascinating book is an exploration of the feminine self-actualization within a centuries-old, tradition-bound society. The author touches upon a number of themes: the conflict between personal fulfillment and communal responsibility; the role of women in the stratified Chinese society of the time; and finally, the nature of love, romantic and universal.
Natasa
Feb 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
 I enjoyed this book. It gives a fascinating view of Chinese life before the revolution and a good insight into their way of thinking, customs and attitudes. The book provided great material for discussion on topics like the role of sex in marriage relationships between men and women, parental control of children and the roles of women traditionally and today.
Mia Prasetya
Jan 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: touch-of-asia
Tidak seperti yang saya kira, novel sastra cina ternyata bisa membuat saya hampir tidak bisa berhenti membacanya, kesalib dikit ama death note sih, tapi secara keseluruhan buku ini sangat bagus, ditulis dengan manis dan indah oleh Pearl S Buck.

Review awal menceritakan tentang seorang nyonya rumah bijaksana bernama Madame Wu, pada ulang tahun ke 40 ia mengambil keputusan heboh. Mencarikan istri muda untuk suaminya.

Review itu sudah cukup membuat saya tertarik untuk membeli novel ini, dan saya ti
...more
Rebecca
Apr 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I keep thinking that Pearl Buck novels can't get any better, but then they do! The main character, Madame Wu, decides on her 40th birthday to get a concubine for her husband. (I'm not giving away the plot here -- you find this out on the first page.) She has her own reasons for this -- fear of high-risk pregnancy at her age, a desire to live for herself and not her husband, etc., but her family and community are aghast.

This is a story about relationships between women and men, independence and i
...more
Ana
I have read some of Pearl Buck novels when I was much younger, but I don't remember them being so... exhausting? tedious? annoying? I think the fault is with the main character, who is pretty much the most unrelatable character I have ever come across. She is so self-righteous, so full of herself, so narcissistic, so judgmental, so controlling, I couldn't stop cringing with annoyance. The greatest value of this book lies in the depiction of life in a traditional Chinese household, but you can ge ...more
Olariu
May 02, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
cam 3,5 mai corect....frumos scrisa, interesanta transformarea eroinei principale, dar parca era loc de ceva mai mult...
Bbrown
Jun 17, 2017 rated it liked it
When I read The Good Earth for class many years ago I enjoyed it, but until very recently it never occurred to me to read anything else by Pearl S. Buck. The Good Earth, is, after all, her most popular book by far, winning Buck the Pulitzer Prize and contributing to her Nobel Prize win more than any of her other novels (most of them, including this one, she wrote after she was a laureate). I didn’t even know the name of any of Buck’s other works, so I was surprised to find that she had been a ra ...more
Kathryn
Feb 05, 2019 added it
Shelves: 2019, favorites
It truly is a marvel when someone recommends a book (my sister in this case) and it turns out to be one of my all time favorites. Madam Wu at 40 has decided to find her husband a concubine and retire from married life. The repercussions from that decision fill each page with sorrow and insight. The Chinese customs from the 1940s are fascinating. The story explains those customs and as the book moved along I saw Madam Wu and many of those tried and true customs soften and in some cases change. Th ...more
Orsolya
Apr 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Historical fiction, Chinese aristocracy, personal and female growth, love lessons… these are all terms to describe “Pavilion of Women” by Pearl Buck. However, don’t think that is all there is to the novel. The depth will surprise you…

Pearl Buck’s “Pavilion of Women” instantly immerses the reader into the depth of its plot and character of Madame Wu. Rather than feeling like you need to be introduced properly; somehow there is an old familiarity, like a friend re-visited with an instant camarader
...more
Chris
Mar 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What a pleasant surprise to become thoroughly engrossed in a book, of which I had few expectations. Wasn't a big fan of "The Good Earth", so opened this with a little trepidation. Set in China, primarily in the 1930s, there is a lot in this small novel: the nature of relationships between men & women, family dynamics, finding one's true self and happiness, cultural traditions versus change. It touched my soul just as Madame Wu's soul was "found" and truly opened to others.

Madame Wu, from an
...more
Taryn
Apr 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
What an utterly fascinating premise- a wealthy (Chinese) woman turns 40, and decides her husband needs a concubine so he'll leave her the h*** alone. She is fond of him, but is simply tired of having to perform her main wifely duty, and having already given him 4 sons, and being frightened of the dangers of late life pregnancies, she selects the concubine herself. Her family is horrified.

At a certain point she befriends a foreign monk, whose exact religion is never clear, and her life is change
...more
Angie
Jan 21, 2010 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
K.
"He would die earlier than need be, she thought, looking at his jowls, and then she thought again that it was better to die happy, even though earlier, than to die less happy, even though later."



I oppose pretty much every "fundamental truth" Madame Wu believed about men and women and our place in this world, but Pavilion of Women was so beautifully written I was drawn in despite this disagreement.

"Her soul had outstripped her life. It had gone out far beyond the four walls within which her body
...more
Sherry Joiner
Jan 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It was like going on a soulful journey.
Sushma Manava
Feb 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2019
I enjoyed this one quiet a bit. It was interesting to learn more about another culture. I think the author does a good job of pulling the reader into the story and then you want to know what happens to the characters and how they grow and keep turning pages to find out more. This is a book about family dynamics and finding yourself
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Pearl Sydenstricker 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 forced Buck back to the United St ...more
“You are right,” he had said. “Love is not the word. No one can love his neighbor. Say, rather, ‘Know thy neighbor as thyself.” That is, comprehend his hardships and understand his position, deal with his faults as gently as with your own. Do not judge him where you do not judge yourself. Madame, this is the meaning of the word love.” 19 likes
“You are free when you gain back yourself,” Madame Wu said. “You can be as free within these walls as you could be in the whole world. And how could you be free if, however far you wander, you still carry inside yourself the constant thought of him? See where you belong in the stream of life. Let it flow through you, cool and strong. Do not dam it with your two hands, lest he break the dam and so escape you. Let him go free, and you will be free.” 18 likes
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