This book is simply a must-read. Or listen. Like a lot of others I had read the book. I remembered liking it. It had been a while and I had forgotten some details, so I decided to give listening to it a try. I'm very glad I did. It has probably been my favorite book to listen to, and I have listened to quite a few. Anthony Heald does a masterful job reading this. I will look for some of his other work to listen to because of his job on this book. If you are considering listening to this, do it! You will definitely not be sorry.
Reading, the arts and physical activity clarify, explain, illustrate, and interpret life’s goods and bads.
The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck, produced for Ms. Buck both a Pulitzer and Nobel Prize for her contributions of allegorical Pre-WWII accounts of China. 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. I found Lung, although kind, to be a pathetic character. Which made following his travels through life difficult but nevertheless the story has so many good teachings about humanity, one’s control of his own life and making one’s way in this world to make this book.
I have referred to the story as allegorical. The suggestion of how to perform life by demonstrating principles of human existence through undertakings of the characters and the caricaturization of their acts or surrounding circumstances. Given my definition of allegorical (which I find nowhere else), this story, its tale and its helpfulness to anyone’s life (if you are the type that wishes to consider life’s meanings) is idyllic.
The narrator is perfect as his voice is soothing and mature but also very dynamic. The many characters come to life through him. The book itself is far better than I thought it would be but I imagine that its beauty and insights would appeal most to readers who themselves have already attained a certain age. It is the story of a man's life and so one must have seen something of life and perhaps already have wed and had children, to fully enjoy this marvelous tale. The descriptions of the land are unforgettable and never once overwrought or tedious as I worried they might be. The writing flows through the places and characters as they develop and as the land transforms from their labor. It is also a book about poverty and wealth, work and ritual, family and love and lust and hatred. war, starvation, shame, bandits, revolution, the country, the city, the disabled, drug addiction, beauty, greed, risk, friendship and loyalty, fear and loathing, honor, guilt, memory, money, loyalty, disloyalty, famine, disease, mobs, theft, rumor, innuendo, scheming, posturing, embarrassment, pride, babies, whores, gender issues.... It's all there but never as overwhelming as a long list might suggest. It is a giant book that taxes the reader very little and will probably remain a classic for a long time.
I'm a visual artist. I listen as I work. I'd love to connect to listeners w similar tastes so I can cont. to discover great reads. Cheers!
Long, dull, and astonishingly repetitious- the only thing that got me through this was the reader. I am astonished at the accolades this book received. I appreciate that Buck told a historical fiction story well enough to allow us a window into another place and time. I rejoice for all female firsts, as Buck was the first woman awarded the Pulitzer Prize for literature. But does anyone find her recognition painfully ironic given that even the voice of the author agrees with this place and time's horrible degradation and perceived worthlessness of women? I found that (no matter how accepted it was in her time) really tough to endure. History and unpleasantries aside, there was but one character I came to care for and wished to know more of as the hours droned on, and it was by no means the protagonist. Sadly it was not the author, either. There was no character arc, no climax, and seemingly no end.
Compassion, human condition
The enormous compassion this story contains for human beings living under terribly difficult situations.
Details about the central character's struggles getting started with his farming.
If I had had the leisurely schedule, I might well have wanted this.
The narrator of the story, the reader, adds a great and important dimension to the telling of this tale. Wonderful !
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!
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.
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...