Friday, September 26, 2014

Imperial Woman by Pearl S. Buck


Imperial Woman
by Pearl S. Buck
originally published, 1956
Open Road Media e-book, 2013
384 pages
source: purchased

Audiobook: Oasis Audio, 2011
narrated by Kirsten Potter
17 hours and 46 minutes
source: purchased

One sentence summary:
Imperial Woman tells the story of Tzu Hsi, China's last empress, who began her life in the Forbidden City as a concubine and rose to become the head of the Qing Dynasty.

Motivation:
I've enjoyed other books by Pearl S. Buck -The Good Earth (an all-time favorite), Pavilion of Women, and Peony: A Novel of China - so decided to include Imperial Woman on my Classics Club list.

How does this one compare?
Previous Buck novels I've read were based on lives of ordinary citizens, but Imperial Woman is about both Chinese royalty and an actual historic figure. Tzu Hsi's story is an interesting one and I enjoyed learning about life in the Forbidden City, but eventually became impatient with the endless palace "intrigue".


A note on the audio production:
This was a combination print/audio experience for me. I decided to purchase Imperial Woman based solely on the fact that Kristen Potter was the narrator and had done an excellent job with Peony: A Novel of China. Her voice is soft, yet firm with an unhurried, deliberate pacing that fits perfectly with the Chinese culture portrayed in the novel.

My rating:



Bottom line:
Recommended, but if you haven't read Pearl S. Buck, I'd suggest starting with The Good Earth or Pavilion of Women.

16 comments:

  1. You know, I've had The Good Earth loaded on my iPod for a really long time thanks to your original recommendation! For some reason, I keep passing over it for new shiny things (hence my overall problem with classics!). Thanks for the reminder!

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    1. Sandy - New releases distract me all the time! Imperial Women had been on my phone for at least a year before I started listening.

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  2. I've read The Good Earth so long ago that I should go back to it first. I've read about this Empress elsewhere and it was an impressive career.

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    1. Mystica - The Good Earth is actually part of a trilogy, so I want to go reread and continue with the other two... one of these days.

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  3. I read The Good Earth in high school or college and remember loving it. I wonder how I would feel about it - or any of Buck's books - today.

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    1. Kathy - I never read Buck in high school or college. Finally got around to The Good Earth after Oprah chose it for her book club. I'm glad she did!

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  4. I really enjoyed The Good Earth when I read it years ago and have been wanting to read more. I think I'll take your advice and go with Pavilion of Women first though.

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    Replies
    1. Katherine - Pavilion of Women was one of my favorite books several years ago. My mother loved it, too!

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  5. I think it's hard to read another book by an author when we already have a beloved work they've written. I love The a Good Earth, too, every time I read it. ;) this also happened with DuMaurier and Rebecca, and Atwood and The Robber Bride. Nothing else is going to come up to those books.

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    1. Bellezza - The only other Atwood that compared to The Robber Bride for me was Cat's Eye, and I've yet to read more of DuMaurier beyond Rebecca. When I return to Buck, it will be to reread The Good Earth.

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  6. Intrigued by the print/audio version. I admit I haven't read any PB... this sounds interesting.

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    Replies
    1. Arti - I'd recommend starting with The Good Earth or Pavilion of Women.

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  7. I read this a hundred years ago. I remember loving Buck in junior high/high school. I wonder what I'd think now.

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    1. Beth F - I wonder how I got through high school and college without reading anything at all by Buck!

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  8. I've never read anything by her, but remember a lot of people loving The Good Earth awhile back. I'll need to give her a try.

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    Replies
    1. Sarah - The Good Earth is a great place to start. It's actually the first book of a trilogy.

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