letterpekingWho wrote this book and when?
Pearl S. Buck published this in 1957.

Has there been a film version?
No.

Who are the important characters?
Elizabeth – the narrator, a woman who is married to a half-Chinese man, now living on her family farm in Vermont
Rennie – Elizabeth’s only child, he is a teenager when the story starts
Gerald – Elizabeth’s husband, still living in Communist China
Baba – Elizabeth’s father-in-law, suffering from strokes
Dr. Spauldin – the local doctor
Sam Blaine – a man who takes in Baba when he is lost and penniless, befriends the whole family

What’s it about?
Elizabeth MacLeod is living on her Vermont farm with her teenage son, Rennie, while her husband still lives in Peking, China – despite the new Communist government. At the opening of the book, Elizabeth receives a letter from her husband, Gerald, that she knows will be the last she will ever get from him. And while we aren’t told the contents of the letter until near the end of the book – the letter and her son’s struggles with his interracial heritage bring Elizabeth to relate to the reader her courtship and early years of marriage with Gerald. When Gerald’s father, Baba, comes to live with the family, Elizabeth is able to learn more of her mother-in-law and more of why Gerald is the way he is.

Why is this book a classic/bestseller?
I don’t believe it’s either.

Do I recommend you read this book?
No…it’s not bad, but nothing stellar.

How did this book make my list?
I like Pearl S. Buck as an author.

Has it won any awards?
No, I don’t believe so.

Favorite quotes:
“The windows of my father’s mind were open to the world. When he died, I kept the windows open.”  p 25

“There is no better time to think and ponder than in the hours when a woman sweeps and dusts and makes beds. The physical activity sends blood coursing through her frame and the brain awakes.” – p 128

Anything else?
Communism creeps me out.

Personal thoughts:
I’m fairly certain I’ve mentioned before how Pearl S. Buck’s books strike me as one enormous poem. Not in the “really flower and I’m not sure what she’s saying sense” but in that every sentence describes exactly what she wishes it to in a beautiful way you’d never consider saying it yourself. Even though the plot of this novel didn’t pick me up and grab me and swing me around, it was delightful to read simply because of the tone and attitude of the words themselves.

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