Monday 17 January 2011

Buck, Pearl S. "The Good Earth"

Buck, Pearl S. "The Good Earth" - 1931

The first volume in the "House of Earth Trilogy", the second one is "Sons", the third "A House Divided".

I absolutely love this book. Pearl S. Buck was my first "grown up" author, I read all the books our little village library had.

The description of all sorts of people in pre-revolutionary China is really interesting, Pearl S. Buck manages to describe every single person and event so vividly, you feel like you're almost there.

We lead a very different life today and I'm grateful for that. It was a hard life back then, especially for women who were considered a burden to their families and often sold when they didn't have enough money.

Wang Lung, the protagonist of the story, manages to get very rich through the land he buys. He owes all this to his wife who used to be a slave. But he doesn't really recognize this and leads a life any male would lead at the time. I cannot really judge him for that because he didn't know any better. I feel sorry for his wife, O-Lan, though for whom life was one big misery.

We discussed this in our international book club in October 2009.

From the back cover:

"This Pulitzer Prize-winning classic tells the poignant tale of a Chinese farmer and his family in old agrarian China. The humble Wang Lung glories in the soil he works, nurturing the land as it nurtures him and his family. Nearby, the nobles of the House of Hwang consider themselves above the land and its workers; but they will soon meet their own downfall.

Hard times come upon Wang Lung and his family when flood and drought force them to seek work in the city. The working people riot, breaking into the homes of the rich and forcing them to flee. When Wang Lung shows mercy to one noble and is rewarded, he begins to rise in the world, even as the House of Hwang falls.

See more comments on my ThrowbackThursday post in 2022.

Find other books by Pearl S. Book that I read here.

Pearl S. Buck received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1938 "for her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China and for her biographical masterpieces" and the Pulitzer Prize for "The Good Earth" in 1932. 

I contribute to this page: Read the Nobels and you can find all my blogs about Nobel Prize winning authors and their books here.


  1. I liked this book, too. What a different world, a different time! I'll never forget how O-Lan got right back into the fields after having her baby. Wow! Talk about rough. When I first started this book I wasn't too interested and didn't get very far. Years later, I picked it up again and read it through--and just loved it.

  2. I think that was pretty normal in our areas, as well. People didn't have the luxury of a day off, even if they worked for their own family.
    We have all times where we are more interested in certain things. When I was a teenager, I was very much "into" Eastern philosophies and lives and I think Pearl S. Buck might have contributed to that a lot. She is still probably the author I read most.
    Thanks for stopping by.