The Good Earth
by Pearl S. Buck
"The Good Earth" tells the story of a peasant farmer and his family living in China in the early 1900s. The story begins as the main character, Wang Lung is about to get married to a servant named O-Lan working for the local landlord. The young married couple are very poor but through hard work they are able to acquire some land and become relatively prosperous. They have a few children and life soon gets difficult when famine hits. The family most go south to find food and work. They find themselves begging and doing menial jobs to just scrape by. The country is embroiled in a revolution at the time as well so Wang must be careful not to get caught and forced to fight in the military. The family gets caught up in an uprising of local peasants who loot a rich family's home. They find coins and jewels and are able to get back home to their land. With their looted coins and jewels they are able to buy more land and eventually buy the house where O-Lan worked as a servant. Toward the end of the story Wang Lung is so prosperous that he no longer has to work his farm and lives the life of a rich man. He takes some concubines which causes problems with his wife and children. It is sad to read throughout the book how O-Lan is treated but I think it is probably pretty realistic to how women were treated at this time. This book was written in the 1930s but we really enjoyed it. It won a Pulitzer prize and recently was rediscovered by many on Oprah's book club. The book was also made into a movie in 1937. Due to the lack of Chinese actors at the time the main characters were cast as Americans but it was still pretty good. The author of the book, Pearl S. Buck grew up in China but went to college in the United States. Interestingly, she founded the first international interracial adoption clinic in the United States. The book was re-released in 1935 as a trilogy called the House of Earth. The two sequels are called Sons and A House Divided. I have yet to read them but they are on my "to read" list.