59. SONS, BY PEARL S. BUCK (Book 2 of House of Earth)
Continuing the trilogy, after The Good Earth, which I quite liked.
Synopsis: The book follows the stories of Wang Lung’s children after his death. One becomes a noble landlord, another becomes a rich merchant and the third one becomes a warlord.
Overall enjoyment: Not a big fan. Definitely didn’t enjoy this as much as The Good Earth. But enough to give A House Divided a chance.
Plot: Not much in the way of suspense or drama. More of a saga thing. It gets a bit better towards the end, with Wang the Tiger’s son, but two pages of action hardly makes up for a whole book of plodding trivialities.
Characters: The three sons are almost caricatures of themselves. The three of them were thoroughly dislikable, which was probably the main reason for my lack of interest in the story. A lot more emphasis is placed in the younger son, Wang the Tiger, and he’s so petty, dogmatic, selfish, and just plain stupid, I honestly couldn’t care less about him.
World/setting: China during revolutions. More specifically, the communist revolution, towards the end. Unfortunately, the whole book only covers the sons’ point of view, and they didn’t care about anything but their own houses, so we hardly get to see anything other than that.
Writing style: As in The Good Earth, it’s an oral, kind of vintage style that fits well with the culture and period of time being portrayed. I’m sure I would have loved it (like I did in the first one), hadn’t I been so bored by the rest.
Representation: This book even had less women that the first one. Actually, it has no female characters of import at all, except for a luscious and treacherous robber queen who seduces Wang the Tiger to get power to herself (and is duly punished for it) and few “guest appearances” by Pearl Blossom.
Political correctness: It definitely should have had more women. Wang the Tiger’s constant whining about women is so pathetic, I kind of felt like she was trying to include women in the story by their absence, but this absence is so extreme it gets nonsensical. What happened to his wife and his daughter? I kept waiting for them to appear again but they just vanished.
Up next: Purge, by Sofi Oksanen