Saturday, 1 May 2010

Pearl of China - Anchee Min

With only peripheral knowledge of Pearl S Buck, I came to this book not knowing what to expect. Min’s prose, simple and understated, gives this epic story space to build itself in your mind’s eye, making the unfamiliar terrain and times come to life through her engaging cast of characters.

The story covers the life of Pearl S Buck’s fictional Chinese best friend, Willow, a character created by Min but based on a number of key figures from Buck’s life. Covering 70 years or so means that we dip in and out of Willow’s life, following her through pre-revolutionary China to Mao’s heyday and beyond. These dramatic episodes carry the story forward, but I found myself wanting to know more about everyday life for China’s ordinary people through these interesting times, so now I’m going to read ‘The Good Earth’ by Pearl S Buck herself, Min’s inspiration for writing this remarkable work.

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