1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Review for the unabridged audiobook,
This review is from: Pearl of China (Audio Download)
I listened to the Audible version of this book and therefore did not have a cover to inform me that this was a biographical novel. It was not until I was about a third of the way through that the penny dropped and it gradually dawned on me that I was reading the life story of Pearl S.Buck.
Sadly, I have never read any of Ms Bucks writng, though there are three of her books lurking in my shelves. However, I had obiviously heard of her, and once I realised the significance of the characters, this novel took on a whole new meaning.
In an interview by KPBS, Anchee Min relates how she came to write this book about a character who had been considered persona non-grata by the Chinese authorities during her teens (1971). Ms Min was amazed to discover that Pearl Buck actually loved Chinese peasants and didn't hate the Chinese at all. Thus Anchee Min's appetitie was whetted and Pearl of China is the result.
It did, however, seem to be more about Pearl's (fictional?) friend, Willow, than about Pearl herself. Willow is from a poor family and is used in the novel to illustrate the lives of this strata of the population during the revolution that resulted in Mao's rise to power.
Pearl Buck was from a missionary family and the book covers the fall of the Christian Church under the leadership of overseas missionaries. Interestingly, this is correlated in the book I am currently reading, The Woman Who Lost China by Rhiannon Jenkins Tsang.
After Pearl left China in 1934 she was never again allowed to return, which distressed her greatly. America was an alien place to her, and she considered China to be her home.
My one complaint about the book was the emphasis on Pearl's friend Willow, otherwise an interesting listen.
Empress Orchid by Anchee Min (4 stars)