Reader reviews and comments on Pearl of China, plus links to write your own review.

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Pearl of China

A Novel

by Anchee Min

Pearl of China
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2010, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2011, 304 pages

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Judy (05/23/11)

Read this book
This was a marvelous book. The book gives you a clear picture of a China's conversion to communism, painful and violent as it was. I loved this book.
Power Reviewer Louise J (04/29/11)

Compelling and Perhaps the next Classic!
Willow Yee lived in Chin-kiang, a small town far away from the city of Peking, on the south side of the Yangtze River in Jiangsu province. She lived there with her father and grandmother, Nai Nai. Her mother had died after her father rented her out to pay his debts and she became pregnant. He had given her “magic root powder” from the local herbalist. It was meant to expel the fetus but also killed her!

Willow was seven-years-old in 1897 and she was terribly afraid she was going to lose her Nai Nai like she lost her mother. Grandma was receiving men in the back of the bungalow they lived in. While Nai Nai was busy entertaining her men, Willow and her father worked as seasonal farm hands, he planting rice, wheat and cotton and Willow planting soybeans. In the off season her father stole and Willow, now 8-years-old, was herself a seasoned thief. Hunger does terrible things to people.

One day they met a missionary named Absalom Sydenstricker who walked the streets holding a Bible and proclaiming God was people’s best friend. He held his church services in an old store. Willow’s father befriended him for the sole purpose of stealing from him. Absalom’s wife, Carie, was beside herself and in tears when he even stole the churches doormat. After stealing his wallet, Willow hurried down a side street and out of town. She felt as though someone was watching and following her so she took off running as fast as she could toward the hills, after a couple of miles she stopped and sat down. As Willow began to open the wallet she heard a noise and knew someone was approaching her. Suddenly she heard: “...you stole my father’s wallet”! It turned out to be Absalom and Carie’s daughter, Pearl. Pearl would eventually become known as none other than Pearl S. Buck!

I have read all of Pearl’s books but had never really read too much about her personal life. I assumed she was a happy, contented, well-educated woman and author all her life, but I was terribly mistaken. What I learned in this book about Pearl’s “personal” life was truly sad and literally devastating. The book is rich in history, wars and revolutions, love of family and the importance of friendship. The friendship between Willow and Pearl is all consuming and will touch the very deepest parts of your heart. The scene near the end of the novel at the grave will have you weeping from the beautiful one woman service.

This was an extremely well-written novel. I was so taken in that I kept turning the pages faster and faster. It was one of those books you didn’t want to put down. If you haven’t read any of Pearl S. Buck’s books, I highly recommend “The Good Earth”, along with this one, of course.
Shannon R. (Sunburst, MT) (03/04/10)

I felt like I was there
I love this novel!!! I felt that I was there in China with Pearl Buck growing up right along side her. This is writing at it's best! I loved the honesty that the author wrote with regarding life in China after the Boxer Rebellion and during the communist take over.
Darlene M. (Rancho Mirage, CA) (03/04/10)

PEARL OF CHINA
Pearl of China is literally a Jewel of a book. It brings new meaning to family, friendship, love and loss. A friendship that lasts a lifetime. My bookclub focused on Pearl Buck's The Good Earth and Sons last year and this will be a perfect book to share...it is a must read.
Claire G. (Merrimack, NH) (02/28/10)

Pearl of China by Anchee Min
I chose this book because I really knew nothing about Pearl Buck and her life in China. It follows the lives of two girls, Pearl and Willow growing up in rural China as it evolves through to the Cultural Revolution of Mao. The details of the girls lives are fascinating. You get pulled into how life is in the small Chinese town of Chin-Kiang. It is fascinating to read how a missionary Absalom Sydenstricker, Pearl's father, brings Christianity into the villager's lives. The narrator of the story is Willow and we follow her struggles to exist and how much she was influenced by Pearl. This novel is filled with colorful detail and weaves a tapestry of images that are compelling. It made me want to read the Good Earth and to know more about China.
Jo K. (Saratoga, CA) (02/25/10)

Not her best, but very good.
I would heartily recommend this book for any book club especially in combination with reading "The Good Earth" and "Red Azalea" (both of which I loved)...I think to have read all three would make for an incredible and animated discussion that would long be remembered.
Marcia F. (Batavia, IL) (02/18/10)

Pearl of China
"Pearl of China" is a beautifully written historical novel about the loyal friendship between two girls cultures apart. The first girl is Willow a peasant who is telling the story and the other is her best friend Pearl Buck the daughter of American missionaries. Because Pearl is an American she is forced to leave China and Willow is forced to remain. Pearl is denounce by Madam Mao for writing about China and Willow must find ways to remain loyal to China as well as to Pearl. Possibly, because Ms. Min also had to denounce Pearl Buck while growing up in China, this novel was written as an apology for having to have had to make this denouncement. Whatever, the reason, this is a wonderful read and I highly recommend it to Pearl Buk fans as well as book clubs. This book would lead to a wonderful discussion.
Power Reviewer Mary Lou F. (Naples, FL) (02/18/10)

Different cultures make good friends
You can be of a different culture and faith and still be good friends with someone as Pearl and Willow showed. Chinese culture is so different from American culture and it is hard to understand the differences but if you have a friend of either culture, each can understand the other.

Beyond the Book:
  Pearl S. Buck

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