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The Eternal Wonder: A Novel Paperback – October 22, 2013

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Open Road Media (October 22, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1480439703
  • ISBN-13: 978-1480439702
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (309 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #87,348 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“[Buck] did for the working people of twentieth-century China something of what Dickens had done for London’s nineteenth-century poor.” —Hilary Spurling, author of Pearl Buck in China
“One need never have lived in China or know anything about the Chinese to understand [The Good Earth] or respond to its appeal.” —Boston Evening Transcript
“One of the most important and revealing novels of our time.” —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“A comment upon the meaning and tragedy of life as it is lived in any age in any quarter of the globe.” —The New York Times 

Book Description

Forty years after it was finished, the last work by Nobel Prize–winning novelist Pearl S. Buck has been discovered. 

More About the Author

Pearl Comfort Sydenstricker was born on June 26, 1892, in Hillsboro, West Virginia. Her parents were Southern Presbyterian missionaries, most often stationed in China, and from childhood, Pearl spoke both English and Chinese. She returned to China shortly after graduation from Randolph-Macon Woman's College in Lynchburg, Virginia, in 1914, and the following year, she met a young agricultural economist named John Lossing Buck. They married in 1917, and immediately moved to Nanhsuchou in rural Anhwei province. In this impoverished community, Pearl Buck gathered the material that she would later use in The Good Earth and other stories of China.
Pearl began to publish stories and essays in the 1920s, in magazines such as The Nation, The Chinese Recorder, Asia, and The Atlantic Monthly. Her first novel, East Wind, West Wind, was published by the John Day Company in 1930. John Day's publisher, Richard Walsh, would eventually become Pearl's second husband, in 1935, after both received divorces.

In 1931, John Day published Pearl's second novel, The Good Earth. This became the bestselling book of both 1931 and 1932, won the Pulitzer Prize and the Howells Medal in 1935, and would be adapted as a major MGM film in 1937. Other novels and books of nonfiction quickly followed. In 1938, less than a decade after her first book had appeared, Pearl won the Nobel Prize in literature, the first American woman to do so. By the time of her death in 1973, Pearl had published more than seventy books: novels, collections of stories, biography and autobiography, poetry, drama, children's literature, and translations from the Chinese. She is buried at Green Hills Farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

Customer Reviews

Pearl Buck's writing is outstanding.
While the concept of the main character, a genius, should make for an interesting story, I found the development of the character altogether too slick.
Vera Cousins
I loved Pearl Buck's books having first read them while in my teens.
S. Bush

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

193 of 201 people found the following review helpful By Experienced Editor VINE VOICE on October 12, 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It seems grossly unfair to rate a book that the author was unable to finish because of her death, but the Amazon page won't let me post a review without a rating. I'm arbitrarily giving it 4 stars; if Pearl Buck had been able to polish the manuscript, it would probably have been a 5-star book.

This is the epitome of the psychological novel, exploring in relentless detail the psyche of Randall Colfax (Rann "with 2 n's"). It begins with his impressions of the womb and of the birth process, explaining repeatedly that the infant didn't understand these things and only reacted by instinct. The analysis continues through the normal stages of child development, from the discovery that he can raise his head through dawning self-awareness and the realization--by Rann and by his parents--that he is extremely gifted intellectually. He is also socially inept. He observes people and wonders about them, but his self-absorption prevents him from engaging with most people.

There is certainly action in the book, especially after Rann leaves school and goes on his world tour. Because he is so involved with his own mind, however, the events feel distant; we view them through the lens of Rann's wonder about them.

The book has a number of flaws that would probably have been ironed out had the editor been able to work with the author. For example, the narrative is in places extremely repetitive. I found my attention wandering when I read the same thing in slightly different words four or five times. In real life people do have a lot of repetitive thoughts, but that doesn't work as well in fiction.

Bottom line: this is not Pearl Buck's best work, but it is a fascinating character study. If someone has never read Pearl Buck before, I recommend starting with The Good Earth. For fans of the author, this book is a fascinating treasure and well worth reading.
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62 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Gary Severance VINE VOICE on October 11, 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
A hand-written Pearl S. Buck Manuscript was discovered in January of 2013, forty years after the 1938 Nobel Prize for Literature winner's death. Her son, Edgar Walsh, decided to have the novel edited and published even though his mother died before she was able to revise it. The novel can be enjoyed by young readers as well as adults.

In Buck's simple and direct style, the story is told of a brilliant young man with an insatiable desire to learn about all aspects of life. The novel follows the development from the womb to adulthood of Randolph Colfax, the son of upper middle class parents born in a small college town in the eastern US. His mother and professor father encourage Rann to learn as much as possible through books but also through direct experience with new environments and people.

Rann is accelerated through the US education system entering college after taking entrance exams at age 12. The college experience gives Rann an opportunity to gain some independence while still living at home, and he begins to learn rapidly not only from books but also from chance encounters with intelligent people, especially one of his professors. He is mentally prepared to benefit from these encounters but must learn some difficult life lessons rapidly and must deal with the enduring consequences.

Rann is able to broaden his learning because of dramatic changes in his immediate family that allow him to leave college and travel as he wishes without concern for financial limits. So, with a prepared mind and sufficient funds Rann is able to satisfy his wonder by visiting new locations and meeting and taking a true interest in people from various cultural backgrounds in England, Paris, Korea, and New York.
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74 of 81 people found the following review helpful By s.r.cohen VINE VOICE on October 22, 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I read The Good Earth in high school, so long ago that The Eternal Wonder is almost my first Pearl Buck book, EXCEPT that I remember loving The Good Earth. Although I do understand the discussions of the wonder of learning, I found some of them to be excessively wordy and repetitive...the scenery, his infatuation and experiences with Lady Mary, etc... I did find the language in some of the descriptions of New York city very accurate and enjoyable..."The streets were clean for all night great machines had marched ponderously to and fro, sweeping with great insulating brushes or spouting splashing falls of water that spread over the asphalt and rain gurgling down the drains." I also found the pages and pages of self-reflection overdone. The title of the book, however, is perfect. Whether the titular WONDER means a very strong curiosity or a sense of enthrallment, both are strongly reinforced throughout the novel...Rann is certainly almost always in a state of "wonder" whether he is curious about books, the ocean, Paris, women or Korea... "He was always consumed in thinking. About what? About what he had learned today merely in living-..." "His insatiable wonder about the world, people, everything..." "He was overcome with his usual wondering curiosity."
By the time I got to the second half of the book, however, it was I who was "wondering."...I was wondering what happened to the Rann I had become used to AND I was wondering what happened to the author who had introduced me to him. I was almost stunned by the abruptness of change in author's voice after Rann sent his diaries of Korea home to his mother to read, the tone turning from serious and reflective to a nearly flighty Cinderella story.
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