Becky's Reviews > The Good Earth

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
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's review
Mar 01, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: classics, historical-fiction, audiobook, 2011, reviewed

I probably would never have picked this book up had it not been chosen by a friend for a group read. Honestly, I don't go for Chinese lit very much, but I agreed to read this one, even though I was prepared to be bored at least. But I downloaded the audio version, read by Anthony Heald, and listened to the book while doing some much needed organizational stuff, and it was surprisingly good. I enjoyed the reading so much that I would sometimes stop doing stuff to just listen.

I think that had I read this on my own though, I don't think I'd have enjoyed it as much. There are times when a reader can add a whole lot to the story, and this was one of them. I actually do have an e-copy of the book, and I read along at some parts, and I think that listening to it was a fuller experience for me. Heald just seemed to GET these characters in a way I probably wouldn't have. He almost seemed to channel them so that his reading was borderline dramatization. It wasn't over the top - it was just perfect.

I don't know how much of this accurately represents Chinese culture. I don't know much about it myself, and so I took it all with a grain of salt. I don't particularly care for the attitudes towards women that are generally depicted in Chinese lit, so I don't read very much of it. But even if none of the cultural references are accurate, this was still an engaging and interesting story full of very human characters. At times, I didn't know whether to root for or against the main character, Wang Lung. I initially loved his character, and then as he progressed through life and different situational hardships and prosperity, I found myself mentally crossing my fingers while watching him with a wary eye. I wanted to like him, but sometimes the things he chose to do made that very, very hard. At one point, I was so disappointed in him, that I was shaking with anger at the sheer gall the man had, especially after everything, everything that had happened. That man had some cojones on him, I'll give him that.

I think that my favorite character in the story was O-lan. My heart broke for her. We never really get to know her fully, seeing things through Wang Lung's eyes, and he's not particularly perceptive when it comes to O-lan, or kind when he is, but I loved her. She never gave an inch of her dignity, no matter what her hardship, and she had so many. I was in awe of her, all while my heart hurt for the lack of gratitude she received for everything she gave. She deserved much better.

I found this to be an interesting story about a man's life and the things that he was able to achieve with that life, at the cost of so much, and the fleetingness of it all. I think that's what saddens me the most thinking about this book: we can't take any of it with us. I did enjoy this one, and I think the story will stay with me for a while, if nothing else.
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Reading Progress

March 1, 2011 – Shelved
March 1, 2011 – Shelved as: classics
March 1, 2011 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
April 29, 2011 – Started Reading
April 29, 2011 – Shelved as: audiobook
April 29, 2011 –
4.0% "637 mins"
April 29, 2011 –
April 30, 2011 –
April 30, 2011 –
April 30, 2011 – Shelved as: 2011
April 30, 2011 – Shelved as: reviewed
April 30, 2011 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Flannery (new)

Flannery I'm glad you reviewed this one. I've always been curious about it but never picked it up. Classics are totally hit or miss in audio format.

Becky Flannery wrote: "I'm glad you reviewed this one. I've always been curious about it but never picked it up. Classics are totally hit or miss in audio format."

Yes... I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought that I would. The audio was very, very good. :)

Bondama It's interesting to see when one of the GR readers chooses to read a book that has long "gone out of fashion", so to speak. I enjoyed your review very much.

Kathy I'm glad you liked it. I'm going to settle in this weekend w/ the audio and reaquaint with this old friend. I can't say why I like this so much, but I have from the first time I read it in Jr. High. There's just something about it.

message 5: by Tom (new)

Tom Spann Heald's reading of this book is exceptional. He brings this novel to life. I am fortunate to have experienced this great novel through him

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