Monday, August 15, 2011

#BookReview: Pavilion of Women - Pearl S. Buck

Imagine awakening on your fortieth birthday and deciding that you were through performing for others. Their concerns were no longer yours and from that point on you were going to live the life you always envisioned. That's exactly what Madame Wu, the lead character of Pavilion of Women does. How exciting!

I can't count the number of times I've said, "As soon as the kid leaves home, I'm starting life over." Like Madame Wu, I'll be 40 when that happens. Somehow I don't think my decision will have the same consequences.

As a mother of four, Madame Wu has been responsible for tending to her elderly mother-in-law, her simple husband, arranging quality marriages for her eldest sons and overseeing the House of Wu, one of the oldest and most respected families in China. Realizing that she has never really loved her husband and has given to those around without realizing any of her dreams, she makes the decision to step aside.

Moving from the court she shares with her husband to her deceased father-in-law's court sets about finding a suitable concubine for her husband. There's also the matter of her second son's unhappy marriage to be dealt with, along with finding a proper wife for her third son before he falls for her husband's new wife.

When a handsome, foreign priest enters Madame Wu's world, she's pleasantly surprised to find that he may be the perfect person to show her what she's been missing for the first forty years.

I'm a big fan of This Good Earth by Pearl Buck, but hadn't ventured any further into her catalog. I'm mad at myself for waiting so long to do so. I loved this story. Madame Wu is a walking contradiction, but her intentions are good. If you're looking for something out of the norm, this is the book for you.

Originally posted November 13, 2009


  1. There's a lot of youngish authors writing about China and/or the Chinese-American experience. It would be great to read a classic from such a master. Thanks for bringing this title to my attention!

  2. I never finished The Good Earth (I had it on audiobook, and listened to about 1/2 the CDs before it was due), but I've been wanting to give Buck another chance and this one sounds more my style.