Pearl of China

Anchee Min, Author . Bloomsbury $24 (278p) ISBN 978-1-59691-697-5

As a girl in Maoist China, Min (Red Azalea ) was ordered to denounce Pearl S. Buck; now she offers a thin sketch of the Nobel laureate’s life from the point of view of fictional Willow Yee, a fiercely loyal friend. A lifelong friendship begins in Chin-kiang when Willow meets Pearl, whose missionary father converts Willow’s educated but impoverished father. Under threat from hostilities toward foreigners, Pearl departs for the safety of Shanghai, and, later, to America for college, but she returns for her wedding to find that Willow is the satisfied founder of a newspaper and a very unhappy wife. While a changing China swirls around them, their friendship is tested as they both fall in love with the same poet. As the 1949 revolution looms, Pearl flees China, and Willow’s husband becomes Mao’s right-hand man, leading to a fateful showdown with Madam Mao when Willow refuses to denounce her lifelong friend. Though the setting and revolutionary backdrop are inherently dramatic, Min’s account of an epic friendship is curiously low-key, with some sections reading more like a treatment than a narrative. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 01/11/2010
Release date: 03/01/2010
Open Ebook - 978-1-60819-151-2
Paperback - 289 pages - 978-1-60819-312-7
Paperback - 289 pages - 978-1-4088-0979-2
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4561-1432-9
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