Several of us had read this in school. Kathy said that she didn't have the same response when she read it this time, partly because since then other authors like Amy Tan and Lisa See have written about China. She had remembered it as being O'lan's story but said it clearly is Wang Lung's story. Kareen saw it as the cycle of life, the humble farmer becomes the landlord, buying girl children as slaves and whose sons become the young lords.
Mary read in for a book report early in high school and said this is the work of fiction that made her realize that there's a whole world out there that she knew nothing about and it opened her eyes. Jenny noted the absence of love between the characters; they were only motivated by the obsession for respect. We noted that is how his son manipulated him "Now the young man spoke cleverly for he knew that his father cared mightily what people said of him." We did think Buck's missionary self might have written the remorse Wang Lung felt at the end of O'lan's life because everything else he did indicated otherwise.
Joann thought it was a timeless book and wondered how many other classics hold a reader's attention after 80 years. Certainly not Dickens she laughed. Carolyn had read The House of Seven Gables in a Las Vegas book club and said it isn't one.
The discussion was brief because we had Christmas to talk about before voting on next years books. We decided this year we wouldn't try to organize the food in advance but would do what Kareen calls Pot Lucky. We bring what we bring, though we all remembered the wonderful lemon squares from last year and hinted strongly that we would love to have them again.
We had a strong list of nominated books for next year and surprised ourselves by moving through the voting process quite quickly. I've updated the blog and you can see the list of books in the column on the left.
These are the books we will read in 2015.
Twenty miles from a match - Sarah E. Olds
All the light we cannot see - Anthony Doerr
Orchardist - Amanda Coplin
Burial Rites - Hannah Kent
Me before you - Jojo Moyes
Orphan Train - Christina Kline
Point of direction - Rachel Weaver
Some luck - Jane Smiley
State of wonder - Ann Patchett
A man called Ove - Fredrik Beckman
Still life with crumbs - Anna Quindlan
The storied life of A.J. Fikrey - Gabrielle Zevin