Maxine D. (Effingham, IL)
Pearl of China
The title gives the reader the impression that htis book is a fictionalized biography of Pearl S. Buck, but in fact it is a story of an ordinary Chinese woman's life - her trials and tribulations, brought on in part because of her lifelong friendship with Ms. Buck. It presents a well written and graphic view of life in China before, during and after Mao, and as such is a worthy read.
Anna S. (Auburn, AL)
A Gem of a Book
I love this book! It started off rather slowly but quickly captured my interest. It is a novel but the characters are real historical figures and that gives the book the ring of truth. It has inspired me to re-read The Good Earth as well as some of Pearl Buck's other books, and to read Anchee Min's Red Azalea. The mark of a good book for me is that it inspires me to expand from it, and Pearl of China definitely does that for me.
Constance S. (Sacramento, CA)
Pearl of China byAnchee Min
If the purpose of this novel is to show an enduring friendship between two disparate women, one an American, Pearl and the other, Willow, Chinese, the result is quite stunning. Every nuance of the relationship is explored through many years, even the agony they experienced when both women fell in love with the handsome poet,Hsu-Chih-mo (time for tears, readers) But,I was unimpressed with the author's descriptions of the throes of change China experienced at this time: the bloody civil war, the war with Japan and triumph of Chairman Mao and communism. My love for the people of China grounded in the books by Pearl Buck left me disappointed by her characterization of the majority of them. They came across as caricatures.
I don't think Pearl would have approved.
Karen G. (Los Angeles, CA)
pearl of china
i enjoyed reading it. i didn't find it as riveting as her first book about the cultural revolution. i especially liked the details about Pearl Buck's life in China, i.e.,
her father's obsession with christ, her long suffering mother, her mentally challenged daughter and her unfaithful husband. and the strength that both Willow and Pearl Buck possessed. It might be good for a book club.
DawnEllen J. (Riverside, CA)
Pearl of China
With Pearl of China Anchee Min claims author Pearl Buck, who is Western by appearance, but who has " Chinese soul," as a legitimate voice for the Chinese people of whom she wrote so lovingly. Grounded in the perspective of the imaginary Willow Yee, the story follows the girls' early escapades as playmates in Chin-kiang. They reunite as married women upon Pearl’s return from her education in the States and find comfort in their friendship and an outlet in their respective writing.
Through her skillful weaving together of historical events and the parallel threads of the lives of these two resilient and indomitable women, Min crafts a story that offers a Chinese perspective on the essence of the woman whose perspective on China was, and perhaps still is, completely unique among Western writers. Pearl of China affirms Buck’s place among a generation of Chinese who are at last able to read her works and allows Western readers a brief glimpse of the complex cultural history of China.
Barbara S. (Glen Ellyn, Illinois)
Pearl of China
Anchee Min in her new novel, Pearl of China, has written a beautiful and compelling story of friendship between two young girls as they travel through life. Beyond the life of the two girls, Anchee Min also intertwined themes from American/Chinese politics, religious differences, family and love, creating a novel of amazing depth.
I wholeheartedly recommend this gift of a story to all my friends, and to all members of BookBrowse. I will carry this novel in my heart forever.
Liz G. G. (South Pasadena, CA)
Pearl of China
Ms Min not only captures Pearl Buck’s love for China and her people, she also includes the spirit of Chinese literary traditions. While this short novel may appear to be very simple, it can be read on many levels. In addition to Pearl Buck, there are many interesting characters: her father, Absalom; Pearl’s mother, Carie; Pearl’s friend Willow who is the narrator; Willow’s father, Papa; Willow’s husband, Dick Lin and even a Chinese war lord called Pumpkin Emperor. Many of the major characters are challenged to test their core beliefs in order to survive. At the end of the book, Papa comes home comes from his fourth arrest for spreading poisonous thoughts. He avoids torture by a quick confession. He quotes a Chinese saying: “A hero is someone who doesn’t swim against the current.” He explains his strategy as a way to avoid unnecessary sacrifices.
The story spans the period from the Boxer rebellion to present day. The historical background is a bit thin for the many interesting and complex characters presented. Nevertheless it is a wonderful book and should be a great selection for book clubs.