October 25, 2008

November Book Selection

Just a reminder to get your hands on a copy of Pavilion of Women by Pearl S. Buck. Here is a synopsis:

Madame Wu, a woman from a prestigious Chinese family, has reached her fortieth birthday and come to a momentous decision. She no longer wishes to have a physical relationship with her husband, but instead declares her intention to find him a suitable concubine. In the tradition of old Chinese families, her sons and their wives and their many children and servants all live within a loosely connected compound. The entire family is outraged at the thought of a "second wife" being insinuated into their home. This is an era of great change in Chinese society; Western ideas are becoming commonly accepted and sanctioned adultery is now scandalous. But Madame Wu is the virtual head of the household and determined to spend the remainder of her life in peaceful pursuits, free from the heavy responsibilities that her position and marriage demand.

Naturally, what seems to be a simple solution to Madame Wu, soon becomes far more complicated than she could have imagined. Aside from the turmoil surrounding the new wife, her sons and their wives have turbulent marriages as well which begin creating havoc in all quarters. Since ancient custom dictates that the mother intervene, she soon finds her days more chaotic and demanding than before. When a liberal-minded priest enters the picture as a tutor, Madame Wu begins to see her carefully arranged plans in an entirely different light and she seeks guidance from a man that will change her life forever.

There is also a film version. It's a good movie, but it is only very loosely based on the book. I recommend reading the book first. I saw the movie first and the image of Willem Defoe kept popping up in my head in a bad way.

1 comment:

Thanks for joining our discussion of this book!

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