The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

Published: 1931
Categories: Classic, China
Source: My own copy

Wang Lung, rising from humble Chinese farmer to wealthy landowner, gloried in the soil he worked. He held it above his family, even above his gods. But soon, between Wang Lung and the kindly soil that sustained him, came flood and drought, pestilence and revolution….

Through this one Chinese peasant and his children, Nobel Prize-winner Pearl S. Buck traces the whole cycle of life, its terrors, its passion, its persistent ambitions and its rewards. Her brilliant novel beloved by millions of readers throughout the world is a universal tale of the destiny of men.

My Thoughts:

There aren’t enough words to accurately describe my feelings about The Good Earth. Simply put, it is one of the best books ever penned.

The book begins on the morning of his wedding to a slave girl named O-Lan. As he prepares himself we get a sense of the simple, proud, and hardworking man that he is. He is fiercely attached to his land, devoted to his father, and eager to start a family. 

As the old saying goes, behind every great man is a great woman. O-Lan is crucial to Wang Lung’s success. Her skills and smarts make all the difference in the fortunes of their family. 

Captivating characters and irresistible prose have made The Good Earth one of my favorite books of all time.

“But Wang Lung thought of his land and pondered this way and that, with the sickened heart of deferred hope, how he could get back to it. he belonged, not to this scum which clung to the walls of a rich man’s house; nor did he belong to the rich man’s house. He belonged to the land and he could not live with any fullness until he felt the land under his feet and followed a plow in the springtime and bore a scythe in his hand at harvest.” 

“Then Wang Lung, without comprehending it, looked for an instant into the heart of this dull, and faithful creature, who had labored all her life at some task at which she won no reward.”
The Classics Club
2013 TBR Pile Challenge

44 thoughts on “The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

  1. I loved The Good Earth. Have you ever read Pearl Buck's autobiography, My Several Worlds? It's pretty good too – I actually first read it as a teenager, in a Reader's Digest Condensed Version at my grandparent's house. There is a recent biography of Pearl S. Buck out that's pretty good too.


  2. O-Lan's treatment in this books makes me so sad. She was instrumental to the success of the family, as you said, but to see her so under appreciated was heartbreaking.


  3. Exactly. It was heartbreaking! And when Wang Lung took those pearls from her…ohhh I wanted to smack him upside the head 😦 Of course he didn't understand how fantastic she was until it was too late. Sigh, isn't that always the way?


  4. This is on my classics club list, extremely excited to read it now!I also own Pearl of China by Anchee Min, which is historical fiction about Pearl Buck. I don't know if it is any good though.


  5. And yet the premise sounds pretty regular – though that's often the way, isn't it? Less detailed premises make for lots of time to create lessons and complexities.


  6. I've always kind of been on the fence about this one because I've heard some say they didn't like it but reading through your post and the comments makes me wonder why!! I always see it at Target when I go…one of these days I need to actually pick it up!


  7. I loved it, I'm glad you did too! Are you going to read the rest of the trilogy? I haven't yet, but it's one of my many long term plans…


  8. Aye yai yai. Just go on and make me feel even more guilty for not having read this one, yet. I bought a copy YEARS ago, but I think it has disappeared at this point. Or maybe it's in storage. I don't know. Gah. GAH.


  9. I somehow escaped reading The Good Earth in school, and after reading your review feel as if I've been robbed. I love beautiful writing and strong stories, and it sounds like this book as both in abundance.Thanks for an inspiring review.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s