On her 40th birthday, Madame Wu carries out a decision she has been planning for a long time: she tells her husband that after 24 years their physical life together is now over and she wishes him to take a second wife. The House of Wu, one of the oldest and most revered in China, is thrown into an uproar by her decision, but Madame Wu will not be dissuaded and arranges for a young country girl to come take her place in bed.
Elegant and detached, Madame Wu orchestrates this change as she manages everything in the extended household of more than sixty relatives and servants. Alone in her own quarters, she relishes her freedom and reads books she has never been allowed to touch. When her son begins English lessons, she listens, and is soon learning from the "foreigner," a free-thinking priest named Brother Andre, who will change her life.
Pavilion of Women is a thought-provoking combination of Old China, unorthodox Christianity, and liberation, written by Pearl S. Buck, a Nobel Prize winner born and raised in China. Few stories raise so many questions about the nature and roles of men and women, about self-discipline and happiness. At the center is the amazing Madame Wu - brilliant, beautiful, full of contradictions and authority.
©1990 Pearl S. Buck (P)2011 Oasis Audio
Although this novel was written long ago, the tale is still as engaging and enjoyable many generations later. It's a great journey into a country village where prominent families ruled and the world was at war with itself. The story is read well by a male voice who was able to tell this tale with the depth, variety, emotion and understand it deserves. Very good performance of a wonderful story of Madame Wu. Highly recommended!
The narrator! I'm not sure what else because I had to stop it after a while. I couldn't stand anymore.
It seemed as wonderful as Pearl S. Buck's other work, from what I could hear. I'll definitely just buy a hard copy and read it for myself.
First of all, why have a man narrate a story told from a woman's perspective? I guess it still could have been okay, but he was very monotone and sometimes I felt that he enunciated words in really strange ways, putting emphasis on random syllables and sounds. Sometimes I also felt that he was trying to add a mild version of a cheesy chinese accent. It almost seemed like he was being snide about the characters, like he didn't like them. I may try again and see if I can get used to his style, but it's doubtful.
I'm a fan of Pearl S. Buck and very much enjoyed the Good Earth, but this book just didn't do it for me. The premise was intriguing to me, but the story is so flat and the reading so monotone, that I find myself just tuning it out and having to re-listen to whole chapters. I never finished it.
"Not as good as expected"
Interesting insight into the rural high class pre-revolution China, both in their every day lives and their strict cultural structure.
Started confusing but engaging, getting to know the different characters and personalities.
Madame Wu started as a wise, kind head of the household, only to turn into an overly exaggerated fountain of goodness and wisdom. Could not understand the origin of such deep love for Andre, considering the limited time the novel puts them together. Andre is another over the top wise and generous soul. Her constant thoughts of him ended up boring me and couldn't wait for the book to end.
The narration was fine, but I might have enjoyed it more narrated by a woman.
A flawlessly written story of how tradition, age old ways and upbringing mould our lives and can change the course of them so quickly. A beautiful quietly strong story, written with flawless beauty that makes you want to close your eyes and be transported into forgotten lands where blossoms, ratan walls, green and jasmine tea and flowing silks quietly form your life. Fragrant rice, small bites of delicious sweetmeats and where all is still and well ordered. But its not! Human spirit, wilfulness and personalities are the same across all cultures and we cannot force people to do what we wish without suffering the consequences.
After finishing this book, I wanted more, I wanted just another few chapters..
"Pavilion of Women"
A fairly interesting story about the perceived role and status of men and women in Chinese society in the early part of the 20th C. The struggle between duty and desire runs through the course of the novel. Having listened to Peony earlier, I couldn't help comparing the two. I found Peony more engaging and better crafted as a story.
"Strong start but wishy washy at the end"
First three quarters give a really interesting look into old Chinese Pavillion life. But later the becomes really esoteric, I couldn't finish it.
l liked the story but not the narrator. most of the charatures were women and I did,nt feel that he embraced their differences, also he dragged in tempo.
I really like Pearl Buck and have read a lot of it, but this is really slow going. Thinking of returning it.
Narration is good. Too bad the story puts you to sleep.
Amazing book. I read at 17 and now 62 years old with dIfferent meanings and feelings about life, relationships, and faith.
"Interesting, but unconvincing and hard to believe."
I chose this book largely on the strength of Pearl Buck's "The Good Earth" which was far superior. I had recently traveled to China and wanted a book that would teach me something about their culture.
I got that in that the heroine of the book (Madame Wu) makes what I would consider a rather unorthodox choice on how to solve her unhappiness with her marriage in pre-Communist China. I initially had an open mind and I continued to enjoy the book for about half its length. The challenges to the conventional ideas of marriage were thought provoking at first.
Ultimately, Madame Wu finds happiness in the memory of a person she met and becomes convinced it is as good or better than love between two living, breathing people. This was a bridge too far for me and from this point forward I found the story impossible to believe and I stopped liking the characters.
The rationales of Madame Wu were contradictory, illogical and I found it impossible that her friends who admired her continued to admire her despite her major changes of philosophy.
By the end I was hating the story and finished the last two chapters by sheer will power to claim I finished it.
Try "The Good Earth" but I recommend steering clear of "Pavilion of Women".
I'm still interested in historical fiction on China, but this was probably my last Pearl Buck book.
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