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The Good Earth

By CPearl S. Buck

March, 1931

Our Review

The Good Earth is the book from my Classics Club list that I drew in the latest Classics Club spin. My edition was published by Methuen in 1948 and is a copy I picked up in a second-hand bookshop.
I’ve been reading the book over Christmas and initially I thought that the terrible struggles of Wang Lung and his family for food and a livelihood didn’t make for a very Christmassy read. But then I’m lucky enough to be in the situation (shared I hope by a lot of you) that the most agonising decisions I have to make this festive season are whether there are enough mince pies to go round or if I can really get away with offering turkey sandwiches again. Thinking about it some more, however, it struck me that of course there are people in the world – right now – having to make agonising decisions similar to those Wang Lung faces in the book. They also are wondering where their next meal will come from, worrying about how to keep a roof over their heads, trying to eke out a living from the land, battling disease, violence or environmental disaster. In fact, this was the perfect time to read The Good Earth and remind myself of all the people in the world less fortunate than me. If that isn’t a message suitable for Christmas, I don’t know what is.


Although The Good Earth contains many moments of tragedy and hardship, I found its theme of the importance of the land, the unchanging nature of the land and its capacity for nurturing life, quite hopeful and uplifting.

“A beautifully written novel that follows one family’s dreams and nightmares across a changing Chinese landscape. And, Oprah says, ‘It’s also juicy as all get out!'”—

“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

“One of the most important and revealing novels of our time.” —Pittsburgh Post Gazette

“One need never have lived in China or know anything about the Chinese to understand it or respond to its appeal.” —Boston Transcript

Book Summary

The timeless Pulitzer Prize–winning masterpiece following a humble farmer’s journey through 1920s China returns with this beautifully repackaged edition that celebrates its nearly ninety years as an American classic.

Travel to 1920s China, a time when the last emperor still ruled and the sweeping changes of the twentieth century were distant rumblings, with this timeless, evocative classic tale of the honest farmer Wang Lung and his family as they struggle to survive in the midst of vast political and social upheavals.

Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize winner Pearl S. Buck traces the whole cycle of life: its terrors, its passions, its ambitions, and rewards. “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), this brilliant novel—beloved by millions—is a universal tale of an ordinary family caught in the tide of history.

This Pulitzer Prize-winning classic tells the poignant tale of a Chinese farmer and his family in old agrarian China. The humble Wang Lung glories in the soil he works, nurturing the land as it nurtures him and his family. Nearby, the nobles of the House of Hwang consider themselves above the land and its workers; but they will soon meet their own downfall. Hard times come upon Wang Lung and his family when flood and drought force them to seek work in the city. The working people riot, breaking into the homes of the rich and forcing them to flee. When Wang Lung shows mercy to one noble and is rewarded, he begins to rise in the world, even as the House of Hwang falls

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