Monday, August 18, 2014

{Review} THE ETERNAL WONDER by Pearl S. Buck

ISBN #: 978-1480439702
Page Count: 304
Copyright: October 22, 2013
Publisher: Open Road Media

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Lost for forty years, a new novel by the author of The Good Earth

The Eternal Wonder tells the coming-of-age story of Randolph Colfax (Rann for short), an extraordinarily gifted young man whose search for meaning and purpose leads him to New York, England, Paris, a mission patrolling the DMZ in Korea that will change his life forever—and, ultimately, to love.

Rann falls for the beautiful and equally brilliant Stephanie Kung, who lives in Paris with her Chinese father and has no contact with her American mother, who abandoned the family when Stephanie was six years old. Both Rann and Stephanie yearn for a sense of genuine identity. Rann feels plagued by his voracious intellectual curiosity and strives to integrate his life of the mind with his experience in the world. Stephanie feels alienated from society by her mixed heritage and struggles to resolve the culture clash of her existence. Separated for long periods of time, their final reunion leads to a conclusion that even Rann, in all his hard-earned wisdom, could never have imagined.

A moving and mesmerizing fictional exploration of the themes that meant so much to Pearl Buck in her life, The Eternal Wonder is perhaps her most personal and passionate work, and will no doubt appeal to the millions of readers who have treasured her novels for generations.

Kathy's Review:

In the forward, written by Buck’s adopted son, he explains that this manuscript was unfinished and unedited prior to the author’s death. So one can only wonder how “finished” the manuscript was, what tweaks she might have made had she had the chance. He also hints that Buck sprinkled in some tidbits from her personal life in this book, such as a favorite dessert she made.

While the summary above is basically the gist of the plot, this book is much more cerebral than the love story it suggests. Rann is an extremely brilliant man who explores many philosophical themes and approaches life through the lens of an intellectual. While he gains a lot of life experience, the writing doesn’t really convey him as an emotional character. He’s rather flat and goes through some rather extraordinary circumstances without much pomp and circumstance.

I enjoyed the novel as it described his childhood, as Buck portrayed those years in a unique fashion. But once he became an adult I began to grow bored.

The novel was not found until 40 years after it was written, and it does seem out of place with modern writing. Had it been released closer to the time it was written, perhaps this would have been a literary success for Buck. In current times, though, it read like a yellowed book plucked from the shelf at one’s grandparents’ house because you forgot your copy of Twilight at home.

*A physical copy of this novel was provided by the publicist in exchange for an honest review.

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