Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Goddess Abides by Pearl S. Buck

From my many boxes of books to read, this is the latest that I pulled out. I have heard of Pearl S. Buck for many years, but can't recall ever reading one of her books. This needless to say, was a bit of a strange one in my opinion. Better known for her books about China, this one was about a woman in the USA living a life that most of us would never be able to relate to personally. But the writing was well done and you can see where the story is going.

Here is the review that I did for Amazon:

I believe The Goddess Abides is the first novel of Pearl Buck’s that I have ever read. Set apparently in the late 1960’s early 1970’s, an era I well remember, I had a hard time not thinking as I read that the book had taken place much earlier. If not for the references to the Viet Nam War, short skirts on women, etc. I would have thought that the book was taking place in the 1920 pre-depression as the main character of the book still lived with her butler, cook, gardener, and chauffer, a rather full house of servants for that time period.

As the book opens Edith Chardman, 43, is still recovering from the lose of her husband when she meets a young man, Jared, at her winter home in Vermont. He is old enough to be her son yet she feels strangely pulled to him. At the same time she is also having an intense relationship with a much older man who loves her and is near death. Throughout the course of the book, while the servants handle the realities of caring for multiple homes, etc., Edith spends her time having philosophical discussions with herself on the meaning of love and trying to figure out the appropriate way to have a relationship with Jared after her older friend dies. She is also dealing with great difficulty with her age in relation to Jared’s and eventually sends him off to marry a young lady in his own age range.

This book held many lovely pieces of prose, had a front, middle and beginning, and was fascinating in some ways. As someone more than a decade older than Edith though, I have great difficulty understanding why at her age in the end she felt that she would never love again or feel passion for someone. Perhaps she needs to find someone her own age? Why is her life basically over at age 43? Also her ability, due to her wealth, of being able to spend all her time pondering the mysteries of life is very hard for someone like me who has had to ponder the mysteries of life in the midst of working, keeping house, groceries, fighting health problems, raising children, etc. Her only difficulty in life seemed to be deciding whether to build herself another house and whether to give herself in love to this young man or pass him on, honorably, to someone more appropriate than him. Most of use would wish that those were our only difficulties in life. Her life sounded a bit boring to me even though her main activities seemed to be reading and playing her piano. But days on end with nothing significant to do while waiting for phone calls from Jared seems a waste of a healthy person's mind and body. Get out there and do something you want to shout at her.. Very hard to relate to especially for the time period.


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