The story is an unconventional love story. Madame Kang decides to retire from married life and find her husband a concubine. In her mind, she has reached an age where she has fulfilled her duty to her husband and family. Her remaining time will be about pursuing her own interests. Little does she know that her decision will cause major repercussions with her family. The changing political landscape of China plays into the cultural changes her family is facing.
The love story is unconventional because it has little to do with relations between men and women. Of course, it is discussed. Rather it is about Madame Kang learning to love and respect others. Specifically, loving her family and friends enough to let them choose their life path for themselves. Forgetting oneself to serve others, in some cases.
The story is not without controversy. I disliked Madame Kang's initial decision to retire from married life. For her husband, it is a slap in the face and a huge form of disrespect. There are other situations that I also disagree with, but I won't detail it all here.
Despite my dislike of parts of the story, I did enjoy the storytelling of Pearl S. Buck. She is a very good writer and one I will read from again. A movie was made off this book, which I haven't seen. Based on the reviews, it doesn't seem to folow the book all that much.
Book Rating: 4 stars
Up next: The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck