Sunday, January 23, 2011

Author Pearl Buck

When I was in my teens, I stumbled across author Pearl Buck (1892-1973) and became hooked on her stories. She gave accountings of China, their customs and beliefs. I loved traveling to a land that she obviously loved.

Pearl Buck grew up in China, where her parents served as missionaries. She lived in China until 1934, with the exception of the years she spent at universities. Pearl Buck began to write in the twenties; her first novel, East Wind, West Wind, appeared in 1930. It was followed by too many titles to account.

My favorite story of hers was Peony. It’s a story set in 1861 China about a young servant who, at an early age, was bought to take care of the son in the Jewish House of Ezra. She grew up playing with David, and as the two became older, Peony became not only his servant, but his friend.

David saw that Peony was a beautiful and very kind person. She had been a wonderful servant to him, but more importantly, she had been a true friend. David fell in love Peony, but to confess his feelings and come to terms with them was simply out of the question. He could not marry her due to the differences in their race, social standing and religion.

Pearl Buck’s moral to the story: Good and bad must be weighed, and one can determine that with all the sadness that life produces, happiness can be found in each and every situation.

When I was in my twenties, I read the story again and was surprised to find the plot was far different from what I had remembered. When I was in my fifties and found the book on my bookshelf again, I read it for the third time. Amazingly, the plot once again didn’t resemble what I remembered from reading it either of the previous times. This got me to thinking. The plot obviously hadn’t changed, I had. Our life’s experiences reflect how we perceive stories. It could certainly explain why we get such a range of scores in contests.

Have you ever had an experience like this? I suppose as we age and experience life, we all change our attitudes and the way we see life. I’d like to think that I seek out the happier moments to remember.

20 comments:

Nicola McKenna said...

Hi Paisley, I liked this post a lot, and can totally identify with your three different interpretations of the same book. For me, it was Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights. The kind of passionate love that flowed over my head as a teenager stopped me dead in my tracks as an adult re-reading it.

My sixteen-year-old self thought Kathy crazy to get so emotionally involved with this animalistic and at times unstable Heathcliff dude. While I've never loved a man like Mr. H, I have gone through the ups and downs of love and relationships myself, and now their all-consuming love seems nothing short of thrilling!

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

I've read Wuthering Heights several times and then saw the movie. Talk about a tormented character. I don't nowadays with the restrictions in what is acceptable it probably wouldn't even get published. It does open all kinds of ideas and show so much in character description.

Thanks for visiting with me today. :)

Mona Risk said...

Paisley, I went through the same experience with books I read twenty years ago and now I wonder why I liked them so much at the time. I also go through the same experience with people. Some I didn't like and now I appreciate and enjoy.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

I hadn't thought about how we change our views and needs with our friends. Good point, Mona. I'm glad you stopped by to join me today, my friend. :)

Jill James said...

Paisley, I thought only I was like this. I've read Gone with the Wind several times in my life and each time I see the characters in such a different way. As a teenager I though Scarlett was such a brat. As a young woman I understood more of the history of the time and I realized that Scarlett did what she could to save what she could. I'm sure if I read it again I would feel something totally different. But, I would still think she was stupid for letting Rhett get away. LOL

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

She was stupid for letting Rhett get away, Jill. What a man, what a hero.

That is one of the things I love about the blogs - when we let our hair down and share ourselves and find out we have more of the same than differences. :)

Caroline Clemmons said...

Paisley, yes I believe we are exactly as you mentioned. That's why some books are popular to young people and adults, Tom Sawyer, for instance, and Harry Potter. So many of our perceptions depend on our life experiences. What a great post!

P.S. Every time we've had to sell a house or land, I remember THE GOOD EARTH. We aren't supposed to sell, just accumulate. LOL

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

OH, goodness, Caroline. I loved The Good Earth. Also The Pavillion of Women. I think I had several of her books, but have loaned them out over the years and lost track of them. She was a great storyteller.

Anne-Marie said...

Paisley, what an awesome post. Something I never really gave thought to, but now that I am, I have books on my keeper shelf, and yes, I have gotten something different each time I read them. I'm not sure if it's because I'm now a writer and a reader, whereas before, I was strictly a reader.

Excellent topic and post, but inquiring minds want to know what made you come up with it? It's something that I never would have. What a wonderful, creative mind you have. :)

Susan Macatee said...

I think that's true, Paisley. Now, I'll have to go back and read some of those keeper books I read and loved when I was in college.

I'll bet I'll find a whole new story from the one I remember reading.

Joan Leacott said...

Thought-provoking post, Paisley. I've read Pride and Prejudice at least a dozen times. One time, the secondary characters grabbed my attention. Another time, the relationship between the sisters came under scrutiny. But every read reinforces one point--regardless of the glossy coating of technology, people haven't change and likely never will. The dream of HEA lives on. Which is a very good thing for romance writers.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Well, Anne-Marie, you of all people should already know how creative my mind is. ;) I've wanted to do the post for a long time because I thought it was so interesting. Am thinking of reading Peony again and find out what the story is for a fourth time.

Thanks for popping in to read my words.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

You'll have to let me know, Susan, after you reread some of them. Some books keep getting better - such as Shanna written by Kathleen Woodiwiss. I read that whenever I need inspiration for a real hero.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Hi Joan. I love HEA in all stories I read. That's why I read romance because I need to know characters I like are happy and find that perfect life. SO I am a dreamer!!!

debjulienne said...

I totally love how you wove that experience into reading and writing. On the funny side of it, and yes you do have one, you used the dandilion concept..and the gardener in me was yelling don't touch that blasted thing, it will only leave more weeds for me to pull. On the happy side, you're safe and sound and alive....and as usual, Ken is my hero!

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Hey, Deb. I'm wee bit confused on what the dandilion concept is, but it sounds good to me. Ken loves being a hero at anytime.

Thanks for popping on by and checking out the blog.

Pat McDermott said...

Paisley, the same concept might be applied to a writer. Would he/she write a story the same way at different ages? Life experiences would surely alter the author's attitude as he or she matured, married, had children, lost parents, etc. Fascinating topic. Thanks for sharing your "Pearl Buck" experience!

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

You are absolutely right, Pat. I know I slip a lot of my life's experiences into my stories. I know my attitudes have even changed since I been learning to write.

PS: We had the most delicious Irish stew the other night. You are one of my hubby's heroines. :)

Pat McDermott said...

Nice to know I have a stew fan somewhere in the world :-)

Joanne said...

Paisley,
You're absolutely correct that we see things differently at different periods in our life. And, life experiences will change our attitudes and viewpoints. My 16 year old daughter changes her mind/mood at least 3 times a day!