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Sons (The Good Earth Trilogy Book 2) Kindle Edition
Sons begins where The Good Earth ended: Revolution is sweeping through China. Wang Lung is on his deathbed in the house of his fathers, and his three sons stand ready to inherit his hard-won estate. One son has taken the family’s wealth for granted and become a landlord; another is a thriving merchant and moneylender; the youngest, an ambitious general, is destined to be a leader in the country. Through all his life’s changes, Wang did not anticipate that each son would hunger to sell his beloved land for maximum profit. At once a tribute to early Chinese fiction, a saga of family dissension, and a depiction of the clashes between old and new, Sons is a vivid and compelling masterwork of fiction. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Pearl S. Buck including rare images from the author’s estate.
From the Publisher
From the Illustrated Biography
Portrait of Pearl S. Buck
Johann Waldemar de Rehling Quistgaard painted Buck in 1933, when the writer was forty-one years old-a year after she won the Pulitzer Prize for The Good Earth. The portrait currently hangs at Green Hills Farm in Pennsylvania, where Buck lived from 1934 and which is today the headquarters for Pearl S. Buck International. (Image courtesy of Pearl S. Buck International.)
Buck Addresses Poverty in Asia
Buck addresses an audience in Korea in 1964, discussing the issues of poverty and discrimination faced by children in Asia. She established the Orphanage and Opportunity Center in Buchon City, Korea, in 1965.
Buck and Family
Buck with her husband, Richard J. Walsh, and their daughter, Elizabeth.
“[With Sons] Buck has enriched her wide canvas.” —The New York Times
About the Author
- ASIN : B008F4NSTS
- Publisher : Open Road Media (August 21, 2012)
- Publication date : August 21, 2012
- Language : English
- File size : 16295 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Sticky notes : On Kindle Scribe
- Print length : 229 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: #36,948 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- #24 in Classic Historical Fiction
- #85 in Classic Literary Fiction
- #328 in Historical Literary Fiction
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United States on March 10, 2023
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I read The Good Earth Trilogy: The Good Earth, Sons, and A House Divided when I was in high school. I picked up The Good Earth because it appeared on classics reading lists. I think I was vaguely aware when I began it that it took place in China. It was a great story, and I subsequently read the other two books of the trilogy, Sons and A House Divided. They're pretty much smooshed together in my memory, so this one review will serve for all three. The plot synopses on the individual book pages will give you a fairly good idea of how the story is divided up between them.
So, fundamentally, The Good Earth Trilogy is a familiar story. It's one of those old stories that gets told again and again through time. Specially, it is the "rise and fall of a family" story. Other examples that come immediately to mind are Buddenbrooks, The Thorn Birds, and A Dream of Red Mansions. Among these The Good Earth is a little unusual in that it explicitly chronicles the rise of the farmer Wang Lung to wealth. (In Buddenbrooks and Dream of Red Mansions, in contrast, the rise of the family is in the past and is recounted only in the memories of older family members.)
Wang is a farmer with a deep connection to the land, hence the title. He marries a Hakka woman O-lan, who was a slave to a wealthy nearby wealthy family. She describes herself repeatedly as "ugly", she has dark skin and big feet. When Wang comes to take her away, her old mistress admonishes her "Obey him and bear him sons and yet more sons." This she does. Three sons -- also daughters, but they barely count. Daughters are routinely referred to as "slaves". Still, Wang loves his wife and daughters, although he is almost ashamed of it.
Because of his connection to the Earth and his skill as a farmer and O-lan's support, Wang is successful and he becomes wealthy, wealthy enough to purchase the land of the formerly rich family whose slave O-lan was. He now can afford to buy slaves of his own, and in addition take a second wife. Wang's wealth begins to separate him from the Earth, and thus the decline of the family begins. His sons, having grown up in wealth, have expensive tastes and little inclination for hard work. The final book, A House Divided, depicts a country at war. Soldiers are depicted here as the worst possible scourge of a country. They eat and steal everything. This is a hard book to read.
As an American myself, I can only guess whether this is an accurate or sympathetic portrayal of China. Pearl S. Buck was an American, but when she wrote The Good Earth at the age of 39, she had lived almost her entire life in China, and she in fact wrote it in Nanking. (This and other biographical details come from her Wikipedia page.) She was the daughter of Presbyterian missionaries, but she had little respect for the mission -- in fact, little more than a year after publication of The Good Earth she left The Presbyterian Board after giving a speech in which she argued that "China did not need an institutional church dominated by missionaries who were too often ignorant of China and arrogant in their attempts to control it." It seems quite certain that Buck knew and loved China well. But, in addition to a classical Chinese education, she received a Western (meaning, of course, European) education. She vocally opposed the Chinese communists, and therefore was viewed as an enemy. I do not know what the Chinese now think of her, if they do at all.
Well, that interesting question aside, The Good Earth is a beautiful novel.
boring and uninteresting as they are, playing only background roles in the story.
As we read in “The Good Earth”, Wang Lung was a peasant farmer, born and brought up in poverty, in an earthen house on a meagre plot of farmland. Suffering unbelievable hardship and near starvation, he survives, and with hard work, luck, and cleverness, manages to put a few pieces of silver aside, bit by bit, and buys land. Eventually, he owns a lot of land, as well as a rich house in town, with courts and fine furnishings, and with his own servants and slaves.
As his life draws to an end, he returns to his old earthen house, amidst his beloved fields, and to the primitive room where he slept as a young man. Even though he orders his sons never to sell the land, and although they pretend to agree, they are only waiting for his death to divide it all up amongst themselves, and to start selling it off.
Once the inheritance is divided, the lazy elder son begins the life of a landlord, living solely off the rents and his share of the crops grown by the poor tenant farmers. Whenever he needs silver, to support his rich lifestyle, he just sells another piece of land.
The second son, a successful grain merchant and money-lender, handles the sales and secretly buys the land for himself, and, like his father before him, buys up whatever land he can. Although he becomes a very rich man, he is stingy, and the family lives frugally.
The third son flees his home to become a soldier on the very day that his father takes the woman he secretly loves to be his own concubine. He is a brave and fierce man, with big black frowning brows (which you will hear about over and over again). He eventually forms his own army, becomes a powerful warlord, and longs for a son to take after him.
The story is slow and drawn-out, with lots of padding and repetition. The writing style is hard to follow and stilted. The author uses odd words and phrases and forms sentences in a manner that seems to imply that this is the way Chinese people think and speak. This hadn't bothered me in her other books and even added depth and authenticity to the stories. However, in “Sons” she goes overboard. I often had to stop reading and go back to try to understand what she was getting at. I found this both annoying and distracting.
Most of the characters are unlikeable and without depth. Some characters could have been built up and interesting stories created around them, and I did expect some to play a more important role in the story, but they remained passive and uninteresting, and they eventually fizzle out.
The book forms a lengthy and tedious link between the first and third novels in the trilogy; it plods along without suspense, and you nearly always know what is going to happen next. Except at the very end.
I only finished the story because I hate leaving a book unread, especially one by such an outstanding author.
My Kindle edition includes a lengthy sample of “A House Divided”, which I am now reading. It's well-written and interesting, with more likeable characters, lots of twists and turns, as well as suspense. I will definitely continue reading the third book in the trilogy.
At the time, I did not know that this book was the first novel of a trilogy. I am happy to have recently rediscovered this fictional threesome. In SONS, Ms. Buck continues her vast knowledge and love of China, in a skillfully and authentically rendered series of events and characters, aimed at Western readers' understanding. As well, the literary language of SONS, which can appear old-fashioned and stilted by modern standards, does authentically mirror the language style of the era of the entire trilogy's setting and timeframe.
To read Pearl Buck's tales of Chinese society and cultural evolution is to travel through time, in a Chinese village and, particularly, many generations of a family that also struggles with the the evolution of it's empire. One could not do better than to read Ms. Buck's GOOD EARTH fictional trilogy, in order to understand the basis for which modern China is now beginning to guide the direction of world events, politics and business. If you wish to understand modern China or just its history and people, than a very good Chinese, philosophical primer is this classic trilogy by Pearl Buck.