Published in 1931, this story is set in rural, pre-revolution China. Author Pearl S. Buck was born in the United States but moved with her family to China while she was still an infant. She lived most of her first forty years in China.
This book tells the story of a poor farmer named Wang Lung. He wants to marry, yet doesn't have to money for a match maker. His father goes to the local wealthy family, the House of Hwang, and asks for a slave to be the wife for his son.
From his wedding day forward, the fortunes of Wang and his new wife O-Lan change, mostly for the better. Not only does O-Lan run the house most efficiently, she also helps with the old father and with the farming. Two sets of hands in the fields lead to increased crop yields and money.
As I was listening to this audio book, I wondered if Mrs. Buck had accurately presented the lives of farmers in China at that time. Several reviews that I checked confirm my impressions.
The other thing that struck me about this book was how the author was able to portray the desperation of the people during the various hardships. The stoic acceptance by O-Lan of the death of her second daughter, born during the drought. I couldn't imagine what Wang went through when he took his newborn daughter from O-Lan, knowing that he would have to let her die so the rest of them could survive, but I could feel his anguish.
I loved this book. It didn't matter that it was published almost 80 years ago. It still came across as fresh material and still relevant. There are still many areas of this world where people farm and try to eke out a living.
Blackstone Audio produced this audio book in 2007. It was read by Anthony Heald. Mr. Heald has a very enjoyable reading voice and it added to my enjoyment.
A brief biography of Pearl S. Buck post by the University of Pennsylvania
The Good Earth won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1932.
It was selected for the 2004 Oprah's Book Club.
Book Photo from Wikipedia
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