on 3 May 2008
This is my favourite novel ever, together with East of Eden. I lose count of how many times I have read it and I enjoy it again and again as if it was totally new to me.
Despite the fact that it is Pearl S. Buck's first book, I think it is a masterpiece.
Told in the first person, the narrator is a young Chinese woman who leads us through a path of self-discovery and love.
Even though she is quite traditional to start with,her views expand after her marriage to a westernized man who even convinces her to unbind her feet.
The book is full of beautiful metaphors and one can even see the colours and feel the sometimes oppressive atmosphere of the Chinese courtyards.
Only somebody as fully immersed in the culture as Pearl S. Buck could have written something so masterful and poetical.
on 3 February 2009
A fascinating backdrop of traditional Chinese culture coming under challenge from western values in the early 20th century. The main character manages to tread a delicate line between the two and see things from both sides. Others, who are resolutely on one side or other of the divide, fight an increasingly emotional battle against the odds. Much as I enjoyed this novel I think The Good Earth (a later work by the same author) is more sophisticated and compelling. To be fair, though, The Good Earth would beat just about anything.
on 30 November 2013
I read this while travelling through Southern China and it brought to life the dilemma facing the changing society in early 20th Century China as young people became more aware of the Western world and its different attitudes to family life and, especially, the emerging role of women. Visiting the various courtyard houses on the tourist trail one could imagine the formality of family life portrayed in the novel. Beautifully written in a genteel style that suited the era and story.
on 16 July 2011
I have never read a book that is so simply written but that gives such a clear insight into traditional Chinese culture. It is brilliant and moving and deals with the mixing of modern western culture with Chinese through the eyes of a young woman brought up to be a traditional wife with bound feet and all that that involves. Read it and you will learn, be humbled that you thought you previously understood, and you will never forget it.