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.
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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.
- C. Boatenreiter