Reviewed by Marianne from "Let's Read"
I have always loved the books by Pearl S. Buck. She writes about a world that is so different from the one I know. And every single one of her stories is telling us a new aspect of that life. In this case, rich Madame Wu who lives in pre-communist China. On her 40th birthday, she decides that she wants to retire from her conjugal duties and informs her husband that she will bring in a young second wife and changes her whole life. Her family is absolutely horrified but she carries on with her own life, she starts reading and then goes on to study, something women at that time in China didn't do.
Her books captivate me every time. They raise so many subjects, often about women but also about freedom and justice. I love them. If I've had the misfortune to choose a few books in a row that I didn't like very much, Pearl S. Buck is always a safe bet to get me back to good reading.
From the back cover: "On her fortieth birthday, Madame Wu carries out a decision she has been planning for a long time: she tells her husband that after twenty-four years their physical life together is now over and she wishes him to take a second wife. The House of Wu, one of the oldest and most revered in China, is thrown into an uproar by her decision, but Madame Wu will not be dissuaded and arranges for a young country girl to come take her place in bed. Elegant and detached, Madame Wu orchestrates this change as she manages everything in the extended household of more than sixty relatives and servants. Alone in her own quarters, she relishes her freedom and reads books she has never been allowed to touch. When her son begins English lessons, she listens, and is soon learning from the "foreigner," a free-thinking priest named Brother Andre, who will change her life. Few books raise so many questions about the nature and roles of men and women, about self-discipline and happiness."
Pearl S. Buck received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1938 "for her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China and for her biographical masterpieces".
Read my other reviews of the Nobel Prize winners for Literature.