Saturday, July 10, 2010

88 - Pearl of China; Anchee Min












Pearl of China: A Novel; Anchee Min (audio book)

 (Narrated by Angela Lin)

Pearl of China tells the story of Pearl S. Buck through the eyes of a poor, young Chinese girl named Willow Yee. Willow is a girl who must steal and beg for food. In fact as an adult that is her most vivid childhood memory. As a child she lived with her grandmother and father. One day when Willow has just committed an act of thievery, she meets Pearl who was watching as the theft occurred. Pearl is the daughter of missionaries. It is here that their friendship began. The two girls could not be more different, Willow with her Chinese characteristics of jet black hair and almond shaped eyes, and Pearl with wavy blonde hair and blue eyes. Pearl always wears a crocheted cap to hide the difference between herself and the Chinese children her age.

The girls grow up and marry - both have bad first marriages. Willow's first marriage was arranged when she was only 14. The women move on with their lives, are separated, but make efforts to keep in touch.  Pearl is forced to leave China during the Boxer rebellion and later becomes a famous writer.  Willow, is caught mailing letters to her friend in American and is considered to be an "enemy of China". When she refuses to denounce Pearl, her American friend, she is imprisoned, starved, and forced to clean sewers.

In 1972, Madame Mao tried to bar Pearl S. Buck  from accompanying President Richard Nixon on his trip to China, refusing to grant her a visa. People in China were forbidden to read Pearl S. Buck's book,  The Good Earth. They were told the book was too "toxic" and could not be translated. The truth was, the book was an accurate portrayal of how peasants lived in China at that time.

I really enjoyed reading about the friendship of these two girls that lasted through adulthood. It was funny, sad, but most of all touching. Although this is a work of fiction, I enjoyed the fact that I learned more about the life of Pearl S. Buck in the process. I liked this story, the narrator was great, and my only complaint would be that there just wasn't enough mentioned about the political climate in China at the time. There seems to be large gaps in the prose that left me having to fill in the blanks for myself. Despite that I would still recommend this book.

RATING - 3.5/5 STARS - Library Audio Book

 I found this interesting Video which sheds more light on Pearl S. Buck and China.

20 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing your review. This sounds like a good book for summer.

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  2. I haven't read Pearl of China, but I enjoyed Empress Orchid a few years ago. I liked becoming immersed in a culture and lifestyle so different from my experience.

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  3. I think I love reading fictionalized versions of writers lives almost as much as I enjoy reading their books. Sounds like and interesting look into the lives of these two women.

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  4. I think this one sounds very interesting and the video was wonderful. I'm going to look for this one in audio and see if I can get it at the library. Thanks for sharing, Diane.

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  5. This was a great story. I'm glad to see you enjoyed it too. I first heard about Anchee Min when I read Our Hart, sequel to My Splendid Concubine, by Lloyd Lofthouse. Those were good books if you haven't read them. I really liked Our Hart a lot more. It portrayed a lot about China even though it was a fictionalized story.

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  6. OOh, I'm going to copy this title down and see if my library has it! It looks like one I'd enjoy, and I LOVE AUDIO BOOKS!! Thanks for sharin.~karen

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  7. This sounds such a good read. Thanks for the review.

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  8. I actually thought the book was too short...you're right in that there seem to be chunks missing.

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  9. I loved The Good Earth and this sounds like a story I would really enjoy. Thanks. On a funny note...I had a loser boyfriend once who actually tried to tell me he was giving me an autographed copy of The Good Earth. Trust me...it wasn't. Sometimes I don't know.

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  10. Kaye...thanks for mentioning. MY SPLENDID CONCUBINE and OUR HART. They were available for Kindle on Amazon for only $1.99 and $3.99, so I ordered them for my iPad reader.

    Charley...off to check our Empress Orchid now; thanks

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  11. I never read The Good Earth. Maybe I should before reading this one

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  12. I'm interested in learning more about Buck, but I'm not sure if I would enjoy listening to it or not. I'm currently listening to The Great Gatsby and I'm loving the narrator, some guy from Britian...can you believe that I've never read this book!!

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  13. I didn't realise that this book was about Pearl Buck. The Good Earth has been on my reading pile for years - I really should read it soon and then keep an eye out for this one.

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  14. Thanks for the recommendation, this sounds like a great read.

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  15. This has been on my wish list, but now I'll consider the audio version. Min's Red Azalea was one of our first book club selections years ago.. very memorable.

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  16. Softdrink was nice enough to send me this one but I just have not had time to read it yet. Glad to know you liked it.

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  17. I've been meaning to read Anchee Min. I wonder if I should start with this or one of her other novels?

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  18. Sounds like a book worth checking out. And I've always wanted to read The Good Earth.

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  19. I read one book from Anchee Min (Empress Orchid) and didn't like it much at all. I thought the writing style was very dry and impersonal for some reason. That being said, I do really want to read this book, as I am really interested in Pearl Buck. It sounds like it's a really interesting read, and I am glad that you mostly liked it!!

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