Pearl of China: A Novel

Pearl of China: A Novel

3.5 42
by Anchee Min
     
 

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It is the end of the nineteenth century and China is riding on the crest of great change, but for nine-year-old Willow, the only child of a destitute family in the small southern town of Chin-kiang, nothing ever seems to change. Until the day she meets Pearl, the eldest daughter of a zealous American missionary.
Pearl is head-strong, independent and fiercely

Overview

It is the end of the nineteenth century and China is riding on the crest of great change, but for nine-year-old Willow, the only child of a destitute family in the small southern town of Chin-kiang, nothing ever seems to change. Until the day she meets Pearl, the eldest daughter of a zealous American missionary.
Pearl is head-strong, independent and fiercely intelligent, and will grow up to be Pearl S Buck, the Pulitzer- and Nobel Prize-winning writer and humanitarian activist, but for now all Willow knows is that she has never met anyone like her in all her life. From the start the two are thick as thieves, but when the Boxer Rebellion rocks the nation, Pearl's family is forced to leave China to flee religious persecution. As the twentieth century unfolds in all its turmoil, through right-wing military coups and Mao's Red Revolution, through bad marriages and broken dreams, the two girls cling to their lifelong friendship across the sea.
In this ambitious and moving new novel, Anchee Min, acclaimed author of Empress Orchid and Red Azalea, brings to life a courageous and passionate woman who loved the country of her childhood and who has been hailed in China as a modern heroine.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781608191512
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
04/09/2010
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
234,366
File size:
940 KB

Meet the Author

Anchee Min was born in Shanghai in 1957. At seventeen she was sent to a labor collective, where a talent scout for Madame Mao's Shanghai Film Studio recruited her to work as a movie actress. She moved to the United States in 1984. Her memoir, Red Azalea, was an international bestseller, published in twenty countries.
Anchee Min was born in Shanghai in 1957. At seventeen she was sent to a labor collective, where a talent scout for Madame Mao's Shanghai Film Studio recruited her to work as a movie actress. She moved to the United States in 1984. Her first memoir, Red Azalea, was an international bestseller, published in twenty countries. She has since published six novels, including the Richard & Judy choice Empress Orchid and, most recently, Pearl of China.

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Pearl of China 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 41 reviews.
Reader_Rabbit More than 1 year ago
What I enjoyed the most about this book was the picture of China during different political climates that the author portrays. So often in historical fiction the reader either must possess a great deal of background knowledge, or the flow of the story is impeded by the author providing that background. In Pearl of China the author is able to artfully weave the events and political climate into the story. This made it a good read even if, like me, you are unfamiliar with Buck's novels or modern Chinese history. Although Buck's parents were missionaries I did find the Christian postalizing in this story too strong. The beginning of the story, particularly when the main characters were children, didn't hook me. It took me until later in the book to really begin to enjoy it. The rest of the book made up for these issues, however. And as the mark of any really successful historical fiction, it inspired an interest for me to learn more about the subject.
dboltchi More than 1 year ago
I am a huge Pearl S. Buck fan. I loved how Min took a few of Pearl S. Bucks actual friends from China and turned them into one person. One person who followed her throughout her whole life. The story was insightful, funny, and easy to follow. The characters were real and interesting. It made me feel like I was actually in the village. It really gives you an insight into why Pearl S. Buck was so drawn to China and why she choose to write so many books based on it. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone seeking a good read!
pjpick More than 1 year ago
Although one might assume this book is a fictional account of Pearl S. Buck's relationships with China and a childhood friend, it is so much more. The character of Pearl is secondary to the author's main character which is the culture and life in China from the late 1890s to the mid 1970s. Min paints a lavish portrait of Chinese life in turn of the century China, it's people, customs, and political trials. Fans of Buck may pick up this book hoping to get in touch with Pearl but Anchee Min has honored Pearl by allowing the reader to get to know Pearl's China instead, and lets the reader in fall in love with China's people. Min's writing is simple yet elegant; descriptive but not overly so. Most of all, she pulls you into the story making it difficult for you to leave. I look forward to reading more of Min's works in the future.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read all of Anchee Min's books. All= excellent. I almost never read books written by women( yeah, I know=chauvanist) However, I ALWAYS look forward to the next novel by this writer. Her character development is excellent, story line is interesting. Made me go buy the "original" book= THE GOOD EARTH. Such a pleasure, so much feeling and provides a better understanding about Chinese culture( you guessed it: I am not Asian). Enjoy.
Avid-readerCF More than 1 year ago
This is a must-read for readers interested in the China of the Pearl Buck era. For those readers who enjoyed Anchee Min's earlier books, you will enjoy the further insight into China and its people. For readers to whom Anchee Min is unknown, well it is time to discover a writer of enormous talent who entertains while providing the reader with much knowledge about the periods in Chinese history covered by her books. The story itself is very well written, but that is not much of a surprize for those who have read Anchee Min's earlier books. Immensely enjoyable read!
gl More than 1 year ago
I was very excited at the chance to review Anchee Min's Pearl of China. I have an uncle who would carefully select books for me. When I was in fifth grade, he introduced me to Pearl S. Buck's The Good Earth. The Good Earth was the first grown up book that I read; the story was so absorbing and sad that it stayed with me for a long time. It was The Good Earth that sparked my interest in China. In Pearl of China, Anchee Min introduces Pearl S. Buck at a young age. We meet Pearl as a young girl as she befriends Willow, a young Chinese girl. Pearl Sydenstricker is the daughter of American missionaries stationed in Chin-kiang, a small town south of the Yangtze River. The villagers are not interested in converting but they're drawn to the Sydenstrickers because of the food, medicine and music that they offer. Pearl and Willow's friendship gets off on a rocky start but they quickly become inseparable. Curious, active, and high spirited girls, Pearl and Willow get into all sorts of adventures. They lived under the Qing Dynasty and survived the Boxer Rebellion in relative innocence until the Sydenstrickers were forced to retreat to Shanghai. After this separation and by the time that they're 14, Pearl and Willow's lives take very different directions. Pearl is in a missionary middle school in Shanghai while Willow is engaged to a wealthy older man. Though the friends live very different lives, they make a point of seeing each other and remain very close friends. This friendship continues even after Pearl moves to the United States for college. When Pearl and her husband return to China years later, Pearl confides the details of her life to Willow. Willow shares her own life's disappointments and the women continue to find strength in their friendship - even years later when Pearl is forced to leave China and their letters are censored. Violence explodes in China and the country undergoes momentous changes from the Japanese occupation to Nationalist control to the eventual victory of Mao and the Communist Party. Like everyone around them, Pearl and Willow find their lives changed. Pearl moves to the United States and she is recognized worldwide for her writing with the Pulitzer and the Nobel Prize for Literature. Willow's husband becomes one of Mao's trusted advisers but as her friendship remains a source of strength it also becomes a political liability for Willow. Pearl of China is as much a story of loyalty and friendship in historic times as it is the story of Pearl S. Buck as a woman of China and a dedicated and gifted writer. I found Pearl of China moving and inspiring - a glimpse into the life of one of the most interesting people of the 20th century. ISBN-10: 1596916974 - Hardcover Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; 1 edition (March 30, 2010), 288 pages. Review copy provided by the publisher.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I did not finish this. Not to my liking which saddened me because I was looking forward to knowing about Pearl S. Buck
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Could just as well used the actress who with her sister were daughters of a missionary or the wilder daughters. You could say this book is true fiction just set in an exotic setting. Historical? No.
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TiBookChatter More than 1 year ago
"It is the end of the nineteenth century and China is riding on the crest of great change, but for nine-year-old Willow, the only child of a destitute family in the small southern town of Chin-kiang, nothing ever seems to change. Until the day she meets Pearl, the eldest daughter of a zealous American missionary." The "Pearl" referenced in that blurb is Pearl S. Buck, author of The Good Earth and numerous other novels. The story follows the lives of Willow and Pearl. This includes their marriages to horrible men, Willow's imprisonment over refusing to denounce Pearl's work, and Pearl's rise as a writer. Some of the novel is based on fact, but the friendship itself is total fiction, which I was disappointed to learn. The historical bits about Mao's Red Revolution and particularly the bits about his wife, were fascinating but not fleshed out. There were numerous gaps in the storyline. In real life, Pearl was a visionary. Highly revered for her humanitarian efforts yet in the story, her life almost took a backseat to Willow's. Min was forced to denounce Buck's work so perhaps this book was her way of paying homage to the writer. I'm not sure she succeeded, but what she did do was make me want to read The Good Earth. In additional to the gaps in storyline, the writing itself is a classic example of "telling" and not "showing." Min tells you all about these horrible marriages yet she shares nothing about them. I never get a feel for the situation that these women are in. Even the imprisonment, which I'm sure would have been a harrowing experience for anyone, is glossed over with just a few sentences telling us how horrible it was. Pearl of China was my book club's pick for July. What could have been a fabulous read, ended up being a thin outline of historical facts with a underdeveloped story thrown in for good measure. I can't recommend this book, although it did provide quite a bit for us to discuss at our meeting.
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