Tuesday, October 5, 2010

by Hilary Spurling

When The Good Earth was published in 1931, it became a worldwide bestseller. Depicting the lives of illiterate rural Chinese opened the door between the American and the Chinese worlds. The author would spend the rest of her life cranking out fiction portraying the reality of the Asian people.
Pearl Comfort Sydenstricker was born in West Virginia in 1892 the daughter of Presbyterian missionaries.
Absalom was a mostly absent father while Carie, who had been an idealistic bride, learned to live without him and manage their ever growing brood.
Before Pearl was even two years old, the entire family moved to China. Pearl would learn to talk from Wang Amah (her nurse), play with the children of neighboring farmers, eat the simple food of the poor and therefore, considered herself to be more Chinese than American. That is until the Boxer Rebellion forced them all to flee. Many more flights would happen before Pearl finally returned to live in the United States.
Hilary Spurling has crafted a magnificently written book. I didn't really know much about Pearl Buck and what is revealed here is absolutely riveting.
Pearl Buck was a woman ahead of her time. Her life was transposed in her writings. This biography has brought her out of the shadows.
Highly recommended.