For years people have been telling me I should read this book. I finally downloaded the audio format and was blown away by both the incredible story and the masterful reading by Anthony Heald. I listen to at least one audiobook a week and this narration stands out among the very best. I was struck by how Buck so persuasively tells the story of a man and his family from a completely different culture. But it turns out that Buck was born and spent much of her life in China. The narrator seemed to capture the cadence of her writing (sometimes criticized I read, for being too repetitive) beautifully. I highly recommend this download.
I don't know how to begin the praise for this narrator, Anthony Heald. I hope he looks back on comments about his work periodically, because it will give him a real lift. Quite simply, he made this book come alive with his sensitive phrasing, his change in tone of voice, his authenticity. I don't know if I would have enjoyed this book half as much if someone else had narrated it. He is a master.
What a timeless piece of work, so masterfully written by Ms. Buck and equally performed by Mr. Heald. I so thoroughly enjoyed listening to this reader bring this book to life; I so completely savored the lovely way in which Ms. Buck wove the language around even the tiniest perceptions of characters who, to a large degree, were extremely conservative of spoken words.
I would highly recommend this book. It was a joy to listen to; and I'm sure I will listen to it again.
former nuclear scientist
This book was written in deliberately simple English, as though by an immigrant student or translator, to reflect the straightforwardness of our protagonist, Wang Long. His life is followed from his wedding day til his sunset, and we see his fortunes rise and fall and rise even higher than before.
It's hard to describe this novel; as an American born Chinese woman, I have mixed feelings about the all-too-recognizable disregard that the culture had for females, even from females themselves, and the cognitive dissonance that the protagonist is able to hold (his first wife, O-Lan, brings him most of his fortune, works hard, and does necessary tasks that he can't bring himself to do - without complaint, while bearing him six children - yet he tosses her aside; he is too ethical to eat stolen pork, yet his great fortune springs from him and his wife seizing lucky chances for thievery created by riots during the Communist Revolution; he knows that he needs to stay close to his land, or he loses himself, yet he lets his children disdain farming once they have money). His treatment of O-Lan is deplorable and almost sickening, yet still we hope for him and his family as they travel the full arc from poor farmer to great family, mimicking along the way the foibles of the family they replace. At its heart, this is a novel about the cycle of life and the all-too-common inability of people to learn from history.
I remember visiting China as a child in the 1980s and meeting my great-great-grandmother, who was then in her late 90s. They introduced a middle-aged woman who was her "slave." No one wanted to explain further, and this book has given me more insight into my ancestors and hereditary culture than any of my living relatives. Though I had to stop at times for tears - the famine and the deaths really got to me, partly because of stories I'd heard whispered about the death of my uncle as an infant - it was a compelling listen, and deserves its status as a classic despite the simplistic and often repetitive language.
I love learning, teaching, and exploring!
I did not realize that this book was part of a trilogy. This book was a little bit slow to get into but it unfolded to become a lovely story about a man throughout transformations in his life. The author is very good at describing pivotal events in the life of the main character. It was a memorable story and an enjoyable read although I haven`t yet decided if I would like to read the next books.
Linda Williams Standridge
for my eyes, yes
seeing how greed and arrogance can develop even in someone who has come from starvation and poverty--although his success comes by the pure luck of extorting gold for the life of a rich man and stealing jewelry during a home invation..
The purity and spirit of the first wife, as well as her under rated cunning, work ethic and her "street smarts" by an ungrateful husband after he has changed to a rich and arrogant man
Actually a marvelous depiction (about 1930) of country life in China before the Wars and Revolution soon to come, which Communist Revolution happened due to the disparity of wealth and position and the cruelty of the haves to the have nots...