Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The Mother by Pearl S. Buck

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I am a huge fan of Pearl S. Buck who is an American writer and novelist. She was born in 1892, the daughter of missionaries and spent most of her life before 1934 in Zhenjiang, China.  One of my favourite of Buck's novels, The Good Earth, earned her a Pulitzer Prize in 1932 and in 1938 Buck became the first American female Nobel laureate.

The Mother is the story of a poor peasant in a remote village in China who is happy.   Happy with her children, husband, friends, position, neighbours and life.  After a fight with her handsome ne'er-do-well husband, he desserts her and never returns.  To save face the mother concocts a story of how he had found a job in a big city and would be sending them money but it could be a long time before he could return home.  Each lie, bad decision, and moral challenge from then on chips away at the mother's happiness.  In the end there is hope.

Buck writes in a simple, moving style which allows you to love the mother, hate her, cheer for her, and even be annoyed with her.  Bringing to life a character is always an act of true craft and magic.  This may not be the author's best book but it is certainly worth your time and attention.

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