Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

I didn't liked this one as much as I thought I would. It was written in a sort of monotone fable-ese that would have worked better as a short story rather than a 357 page novel. And it didn't take long for me to register the working-the-earth-with-one's-bare-hands-keeps-one-honest moral lurking in there either, which is fine for, say, a 100 pages, but 300+? No. It's just tedious. Get to the point already!

It reminded me in a good way of Paulo Coehlo's The Alchemist, (a lovely, honest, meaningful book) and in a bad way of Thomas Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge (a depressing exposé of poorly considered life choices) Somewhere in between those two you have The Good Earth.

So, I have to say, as much as I wanted to finish it, by the time our protagonist, Wang-Lung, blows his savings on a concubine and then let's his loutish uncle's family move in with them, I just couldn't. There are too many promising books waiting for me on my TBR shelf to continue with one that was losing me with every page.

Are all of Pearl Buck's books like this? I do like a good, historical, cultural story, and would consider trying her again . . .


Sam said...

Ah, but I loved "The Mayor of Casterbridge"!

I've never read a Pearl Buck book, and after your review I don't think I'll be starting with this one!

Trish said...

The Mayor of Casterbridge is one of those books I'm on the fence about. It was good enough for me to read right to the end, but I just couldn't believe what a train wreck he made of his life! The main character in The Good Earth was headed in the same direction, but the rest of the story and the writing just wasn't compelling enough for me to stick with it.

I'm curious about some of Hardy's other books, though. I know Tess but none of the others. Any recommendations?