Enjoying one good listen after the next!
I can vaguely recall "reading" this book as a sophomore or junior in high school and preparing a book report as a class assignment. However since that was several decades ago, before listening to this Audible book, I had no recollection of the substance of the book, so I enjoyed rediscovering it.
The Good Earth is a simplistic story -- almost like a fable or analogy -- that remains applicable and can be instructive, even in this modern day and age. Wealth as a destroyer of traditional values, the cycle of nature ,and the oppression of women are three of the major themes of the book.
There are lots of take aways, but one seems paramount and timely: when we are without wealth, we can be critical of the lifestyles, morality and culture of the wealthy; but when we become wealthy, it is easy to adopt those same lifestyles, moral codes and cultures. Interesting, the outcomes we observe for the wealthy are parallelled in our own experiences, and happiness is not among them.
The narration of this audio-book is superb! Anthony Heald is simply wonderful. Pearl S. Buck's writing, somewhat barebones in terms of background and description, stands the test of time and warrants accolades.
This is a great book!
I am an avid eclectic reader.
This book was written in 1931 as the first book in a trilogy. Peal Buck won the Pulitzer Prize for this book in 1932. She was also the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. She was born and raised in China of American parents. She was a professor at the University in Nanking when the Japanese attack. She kept trying to return to China but the communist government refused her.
The other books in the trilogy are "Sons" and "A House Divided".
This book is a tale of Wang Lung a Chinese farmer in old agrarian china. He survives drought, famine, floods, locust invasions, war and family problems. Though it all he manages to succeed in building his farm. Buck brings the story to life and paints a picture of China in the 1890's. Anthony Heald does a great job narrating the story. When you read this book you will understand why Buck is considered a master story teller. I am glad to see Audible offering her books and hope they will offer all of them.
Anthony Heald does this gem of a story much justice! His voices are spot on, and it is magical the way the voice of Wang Lung gradually changes with his age. The narration is done with all the flavor, pathos and gentle humor that this marvelous book contains. The characters are gorgeously expressed, be they young or old men, quiet or clamorous women, or naughty or nice children. You will love this story and the storyteller equally!
Enjoyed this book very much. Excellent narrater and the story kept me interested every step of the way. I would recommend this book highly. Very excellent!
Although the craftsmanship of the author was excellent, I was left feeling entirely underwhelmed and even a little empty after listening to this work. There was no deep character development and at that, the characters all seemed simple-minded and even base - quasi animal-like. And perhaps that was the message, that we are all just simple, base, primary needs driven creatures. Having said this, I actually doubt that Buck was trying to make that the main point of the work. And so, was the main thrust that the land is virtuous in some way? If that was her point, then she fell short of explaining why.
I believe there's a chance that this work rose to its Pulitzer prize winning status due to political/sociological events going on at the time, i.e., the depression and class struggles. I doubt it's an accident that this work, extolling the virtues of farmers and portraying the wealthy as entirely negative entities, sold well during the 30's and ultimately was chosen in 1938 to win the Pulitzer.
Anyway, I would like to say that the narration was EXCELLENT! Bravo to Anthony Heald!
This book magnificently draws the reader into the story where there are numerous subplots -- all about the Chinese way of life at the turn of the century. The narrator does a wonderful job of the different vocalizations required -- I listened to it in a weekend -- I wish I could find another classic that was this excellent!
This is a wonderful classic that brings you into the world of rural peasants in China at the turn of the 20th century when some things are beginning to modernize. I am going to go fairly deeply into the plot so skip this paragraph if you don’t want to know more! Our hero, Wan Lung is a poor peasant farmer devoted to his land. Too poor to find a good bride, his aging father purchases a slave woman – O-Lan – from a wealthy family to be his bride. The couple is happy though silent with each other. O-Lan is a devoted worker in both the house and field and they prosper enough to buy some more land from the wealthy lords. O-Lan is fertile and they are blessed with sons and a daughter (daughters are considered slaves because they will eventually move into the house of another family). But their prosperity is halted by a terrible famine. They come near to starvation when they decide to migrate south to a big city just to survive. O-Lan gives birth to a dead daughter (or perhaps strangled) and the family sets out. They encounter the railroad for the first time. In the big city they struggle by begging and manual labor just to have enough to eat. The youngest child – a daughter – seems to never recover from the starvation and is mentally retarded but Wan Lung loves her and refuses to sell her to survive. When an instability arises the poor peasants storm a great house and Wan Lung and O-lan find enough valuables to let them go back to the land he loves so much and farm again and again he prospers. But when floods stop all work he becomes bored and spends time in the town at the tea houses and becomes mesmerized by a lovely prostitute named Lotus and eventually buys her to be his concubine. O-Lan is heartbroken but says almost nothing. The two women live tensely in the different sections of his house. O-Lan’s health is failing from hard labor and many pregnancies. She dies just after the eldest son takes a city wife who is more like Lotus than O-Lan herself. Wan Lung prospers and continues to buy more land. He becomes so rich that eventually he takes over the house of the wealthy family and can rent out his land for others to farm. His sons become educated and live like rich men with no attachment to the land except to take the money it brings in. Their wives fight and there is little peace in the house. Grandchildren continue to come. In his old age Wan Lung finds a lovely young slave girl and takes her to him causing more conflict. In his old age his sons run everything and Wan Lung stays with his slave girl and his retarded daughter whom he eventually entrusts to the slave girl. In the end he is very old and still loves his land but his greedy sons are talking about selling land as soon as he is gone.
The writing is lovely, the characters real and easy to keep track of. For example, instead of confusing us with many Chinese names, she refers to the sons as eldest son, second son, etc., and the other relatives as uncle, etc.. This really helps. The reading is beautifully done. It is mesmerizing and I loved it.
Famous book. Ok, I get that. I do not regret having read it an there are some things I took away from it. However, I did not feel that it was such a great book that it should still be in print today. It shocked me how boring the characters were. You would find more challenging spirits in a Steinbeck or Hemingway novel. Overall, I felt it was a very boring story and I think people have to say its great because its a classic. That is me, reviewing this as an American under the scope of American culture. Maybe it really is this boring and joyless to be a Chinese farmer. These people are not deep by any sense. They could all die and you wouldn't care. To pop babies out and view them as property and view your women as property and pretty much do whatever the hell you please, that's how they live. As I said, I do not regret reading it and the narration was amazing. However, I don't see how this has stuck around so long. If this is how modern Chinese people think and feel, then its gotta suck to be Chinese.
Probably not. I greatly appreciated learning what the book had to teach me but it is a difficult book to read, at least for me it was, emotionally. I typically pick books to re-read which are enjoyable or comforting.
I recommend other readers try 'The Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China' by Jung Chang which continues the story of the Great China Cultural Revolution through the lives of three generations of women.
'The Good Earth' reminds me also of an American classic, 'The Grapes of Wrath' by John Steinbeck which also takes place in the 1930's and is centered around around a man and his family relocating to enable them to survive.
The scenes with the father and his first daughter---very touching scenes.
The wife's last days and her life.
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this audiobook narrated by Anthony Heald. He could very well become a favorite of mine. I was surprised when I learned he was Dr Chilton from Silence of the Lambs. He didn't just read the book, but added inflection to each word.
I read The Good Earth as a requirement when I went to school but didn't remember a thing about it. It was a new and pleasant discovery to read it again.
The book is a rich portrait of culture of the Chinese people. It followed the life of Wang Lung, a poor farmer from working his land and the good life it brought him. It described times of abject poverty and near starvation to wealth and prestige. The story demonstrates how money and wealth can make one forget his/her humble beginnings. It also reflects on the struggle to pass on one's morals and ethics to children.
While I enjoyed this first book in a trilogy, I don't think I will read the other two - Sons and A House Divided. I was engaged with Wang Lung's life but never cared enough about his children to continue on with their stories. But, you never know. I could change my mind.