52 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on October 29, 2001
Pearl S. Buck's "East Wind: West Wind" tells the life story of a traditional Chinese woman through her inner thoughts and feelings in an interesting manner. The woman, who was betrothed to a Chinese man before birth, later finds herself married the man, who has studied in America to become a doctor. Throughout the book, the woman represents stiff Chinese traditions while the man represents more modern and western beliefs. Relying on her traditional upbringing, the women attempts to please her husband by being his servant. However, he tries to change her view of what marriage should be: an equal partnership and not a servant and master relationship. Throughout the book, the couple strives to overcome various trials and ordeals that deal with changing traditions. In my opinion, "East Wind: West Wind" attempts to tackle the implicit battle between old, established traditions and more modern ideas; it also shows the conflicts between Eastern ideology and Western ideology. Overall, the book is a wonderful insight into the ancient cultural practices of China and how well they do or do not mingle with modern culture. "East Wind: West Wind" is a delightful and easy book to read, and it can be considered on of Pearl S. Buck's best works.
39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on September 3, 2000
East Wind: West Wind Why is there a colon in between? The story is presented like a monologue. The wife in the story, who is a traditional Chinese woman, speaks out her innermost feelings. She is betrothed before her birth to a Chinese man who has gone abroad to study. The woman, representing old Chinese ideas and the man representing Western ideas thus have come together to solve their conflicts. The woman's brother also goes abroad and he intends to marry a western woman, which is strictly forbiden in ancient Chinese culture... After much this ado, it is a battle of East Idea and West Idea. The book ends with the well-mingled culture -- a combination of good East and West culture. The book is printed in very big fonts and are easy to read. It does not take a long time to read, but it tells a wonderful story. In some way, I value this higher than Pearl's most famous work The Good Earth. A book suitable for people who are curious about ancient Chinese culture. (Note, nowadays we Chinese no longer do such things as binding feet or kneeling down before elders and so on) Enjoy your reading!
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on June 2, 2003
This was a quick and easy read told in the first person through the eyes of a Chinese woman. Also it's clear that the writer's own loyalty to the Western thought of romantic love is all over this story. It is this notion that ultimately drives the narrator to give up her old ways and accept the new.
Buck describes how difficult it is for one to accept change in age-old rituals. Although many of the traditions are seen as unnecessary, foolish or just plain sadistic, it's difficult to question them after growing up in a culture where these traditions have been practiced for thousands of years. The narrator is a good vehicle to show how upsetting, confusing and frustrating it can be to incorporate these changes into one's life. Time and time again the theme of the generation gap is revealed, showing how many people simply cannot be changed.
Although many of the following issues came into strong play in this novel, it wasn't so much a search for better opportunity, nor political freedom, independence, nor education, that was the big catalyst for change, as was the simple concept of romantic love.
This was a lovely, bittersweet story with a seemingly very realistic portrayal of how a family rooted in tradition would react to their children, who want to break from tradition. A classic issue, regardless of what era or culture in which one lives.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2006
This was an eyeopening view of a chinese family to the west.We live in a flat world now and are so familiar with everything of the west. Our concept of beauty and desirable traits in the opposite sex are derived in a major way from Hollywood. It was interesting to come across how all things foreign was view by a chinese family unexposed to any but their own culture. 'Unfortunate blonde hair' a view expressed by a young chinese wife of her husband's white woman friend would be similar to what my great grand mother in India would have said of appearances she was not familiar with. Of course thanks to the global media, beauty isn't stereo typed now and we are becoming more open to other looks and cultures and rightly so too. Pearl S Buck has done us all a favour by recording what the chinese culture was like in the early part of the 20th centuary.Her writing as usual is superlative as in all her books. Id recommend it to all those who are keen to learn of a different way of life that existed prior to our 'Flat World'
17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 1999
Their's is an arranged marriage. She is brought up with traditional Chinese customs regarding marriage and he has been educated in the States as a doctor and has learned some Western ways. You will fall in love with the characters as they fall in love with one another and blend the ways of the East with the ways of the West.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 29, 2006
It's Pearl S. Buck's first novel, and you can easily see that she was headed for a long, illustrious career as a writer. An American author who spent the majority of her life living in China, therefore writing about what she knows best in a totally unique fashion - a lover of the Eastern, Chinese culture, but at the same time still possessing the Western ideas of romantic love, marriage, etc... This is what this little story is about - a young woman falling in love and struggling for her own freedom, her own individuality (something that most of us take for granted living in today's Western society).
This is a wonderful little jewel of a book and I highly recommend it. If you enjoyed the 'The Good Earth' (one of my all-time favorites) then you will definitely enjoy this story. Ms. Buck writes with such effortless fluidity and charm. She keeps her prose simple yet elegant at the same time. The story also is quite educational in regards to Chinese culture. I can't believe that it has been 18 years between the time I've read 'The Good Earth' and 'East Wind: West Wind' (the only two Buck novels I've read). I can guaranty that I won't make that mistake again. After reading this story, I am very motivated to read something else by her.
WHAT A FANTASTIC STORYTELLER BUCK IS!!!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 28, 2007
Of course it deserves five stars because of the great author, knowledge of Chinese Culture, good characters and wonderful story. It involves the delicate balance between the old Chinese customs of ancient medicine vs science, the choosing of ones own mate vs the old custom of parents making the choice. In this case, the family is not peasant but prominent, but the culture just as interesting. There is no action in this book but more of a love story. No peasants trying to survive in poverty but a cast of the entitled and a struggle of wills.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2009
This is a lovely novel, beautifully written and insightful on romantic love and on duty in the Chinese culture of the early 20th century...but it lacks the "great" quality of The Good Earth, which is on my top ten list of all time! I liked the characters here but do not feel attached to them as I finish the book, which is disappointing. A nice read but not one of Mrs. Buck's best. For really super reading with a bit more dimension, try Peony and The Three Daughters of Madame Liang, among others!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This is a lovely read, it is shorter and more light-hearted than Good Earth. While not one of Ms. Buck's best works, it is still a enjoyable read with a woman who thinks at first she is unlucky, but then comes to realize how lucky she is to have such a open-minded and progressive husband.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 7, 2015
East Wind, West Wind is the debut novel of Pearl S. Buck, winner of the 1938 Nobel Prize in Literature. It was published in 1930, just one year before Buck would become a literary superstar upon the publication of her second novel, The Good Earth. Though born in America, Buck was raised in China, where her parents worked as missionaries. She lived there for most of the first forty years of her life, departing in 1934. The story of East Wind, West Wind is narrated by a Chinese woman named Kwei-Lan, as told to an American woman (presumably Buck herself) whom she addresses as My Sister. The purpose of the novel is to contrast the traditional marriage customs and family life of the East (China) with those of the West (America). To that end, it is quite successful in educating Western readers about Chinese customs and values. As far as literary quality is concerned, however, it’s not quite up to the standard of Buck’s better-known works, but it does reveal some promise of great things to come in her future career.
Kwei-Lan comes from a family of relative wealth. Her mother and father are married, yet her father also supports three concubines and their children in the household. According to Chinese custom, Kwei-Lan’s parents arrange a marriage for her. She enters into this union with enthusiasm, willing to serve her husband and his family as tradition dictates. Her husband, however, has a different perspective on things. He was educated in America, where he experienced firsthand the Western way of life. He wears Western clothes, practices Western medicine, and favors Western attitudes toward relationships and family. He honors the obligation of his marriage to Kwei-Lan, but treats her more as a roommate than a wife. He refuses to let her assume the traditional subservient role towards his family and insists they get a house of their own. As a doctor educated in modern medicine, he considers the practice of foot binding barbaric, and urges Kwei-Lan to unbind her own feet. Each break with tradition is painful to Kwei-Lan, as her inability to fulfill the customary obligations of a Chinese wife makes her feel like a failure in her matrimonial duties. Her husband is alien to her, yet she resolves to win his love, even if she must adapt to his modern Western ideas.
East Wind, West Wind probably would have been a better novel if it were written in the third person. China has had some strong and powerful women in its history, but Kwei-lan isn’t one of them. Though the reader wants to root for her, Buck’s main purpose for the character is to portray her as a victim to China’s antiquated customs. The reader soon grows tired of her relentless obsequiousness and naiveté. The slightest deviation from the norm sets her off into a paroxysm of shock. “Oh, My Sister!” Buck seems to grow tired of it too, as she switches gears to a different story line in which Kwei-lan’s brother refuses to go through with his own arranged marriage and weds an American woman instead. Once again this makes for some fascinating culture clash, but the histrionics with which it is rendered becomes tedious at times.
East Wind, West Wind is an OK book, but not a great one. As in all her works, Buck’s humanity and optimism shine through, but stylistically this novel is much more melodramatic and contrived than classics like The Good Earth or Dragon Seed. It’s worth a read for diehard Buck fans, but if all of her novels were of this caliber she wouldn’t have won a Nobel Prize.