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The Good Earth Book Review Pearl S. Buck

Updated on March 9, 2012

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The Good Earth book review

Before I go into the review, I want to share my personal story in reading The Good Earth. First I read it and was moved by the plights of the characters, Olan and Wang Lung. I enjoyed the book so much I gave it to my son ( he is 21) to read while he was away from home. Because of happening in the story he was desperate to call me. Olan's character moved him so (she is the mother) he had to speak with me. He couldn't get a hold of me and cut his trip short because he just wanted to see me and tell me he loved me. This is a testament to the powerful writings of Pearl Buck. She was an incredible story teller. I am so glad that I discovered her and have been able to suggest her writings to others.

The Good Earth by Pearl S Buck

The Good Earth" was published in 1931, written by Pearl S. Buck. This story is about a young man who lives on his family farm. He and his father live a meager life. But through hard work and determination Wang Lung, the main character, is able to raise his family up to becoming one of the most prominent families in his community.

Along the way Wang Lung chooses a wife, O-lan who partners with him in hard work as well as personal sacrifice on the journey towards financial success. O-lan is a quiet, strong woman who is for the most part, ill appreciated throughout most of the story. This reflects typical Asian cultural practices of this period. Wang Lung is forced to move his family out of town and away from his farm to find work and food in order to support his family. They travel by train to a nearby big city only to live in a shanty style neighborhood against the wall in the big city. Wang Lung finds work by renting a foot taxi and hauling people through town. His wage after the cost of the rental barely pays for food for his family. As he works, Wang Lung is constantly listening and learning from the habits of the successful in which he served. Meanwhile O-lan and the children spend the days begging for change and bits in order to survive. There is an attack on the city in which they live and Wang Lung suddenly finds himself with the opportunity of a life time! Soon they are able to go back to their farm to live.

As the story has progressed the life of Wang Lung and his family is filled with many trials, famine, homelessness, death of family members(including their children), and then success. As Wang Lung proceeds through his life he works through many struggles, even after his success. It is a story about life, the reader is able to see another person’s experiences from the outside, looking in. If you are looking for excitement and suspense this is not the book for you. It is a slow(not boring)winding read through the lifetime of a struggling family and the lengths they go to in order to survive, and then ultimately achieve success of sorts.

I truly enjoyed this book filled with trials, joy, love, successes and even typical family struggles that we still go through today. Pearl S. Buck, born to missionary parents, had the opportunity to live in China with her parents when most of the world little understood Chinese culture of the day. In her time she effectively opened a window into understanding Chinese culture and their struggles through her writings.


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    • KimberlyLake profile imageAUTHOR

      Kimberly Lake 

      6 years ago from California

      @praireprincess Thank you for the comment. She is one of my favorite authors, I think her books are an important read. My son, who is 21 loved this book, it moved him to tears when Olan died. Buck was a powerful writer and her books are still a great read.

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 

      6 years ago from Canada

      Kimberly, you have chosen one of my favourite authors to review. The Good Earth is such a simple yet profound read. Great review! Thanks for reminding me of one of my old favourites.

    • KimberlyLake profile imageAUTHOR

      Kimberly Lake 

      6 years ago from California

      She Successfully portrayed life and culture of China in that period. I feel that her works are important tools for learning about that time period. Thanks for your comment.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 

      6 years ago from Nepal

      The story of a Chinese farmer's family has been wonderfully handled in The Good Earth. I read this novel when I was in school, but I still remember the happenings in Wang Lung's family

    • KimberlyLake profile imageAUTHOR

      Kimberly Lake 

      6 years ago from California

      Let me know what you think. Enjoy!

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      6 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      Hi Kimberly, I am not familiar with this author, but having read your review, I will be looking out for the books.

    • KimberlyLake profile imageAUTHOR

      Kimberly Lake 

      6 years ago from California

      Thanks for the comments let me know what you think of the book

    • healthwriterbob profile image


      6 years ago from United States

      Hi KimberlyLake,

      Thanks for reviewing this work by Pearl Buck. I may want to read it now that I see that it has lessons for everyone. You are right that Pearl Buck was ahead of her time because back then very few people cared about Chinese culture and traditions. Take care

    • KimberlyLake profile imageAUTHOR

      Kimberly Lake 

      6 years ago from California

      Yes, I love her work! I have read a few of her books and I plan to read them all.

    • Tuesdays child profile image

      Tuesdays child 

      6 years ago from In the garden

      Very nice hub! I agree with you 100% on Pearl S. Buck's work and this story - superb!!


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