The Three Daughters of Madame Liang

Lying awake in her bed, the cold moonlight slanting across the floor, she laughed softly to herself. Could any force, human or natural, destroy a people who believed themselves indestructible, had so believed for thousands of years and would so believe, perhaps forever? Was this not the guarantee of life, the Eternal Way?

— from The Three Daughters of Madame Liang by Pearl S. Buck, 1969

Pearl Buck knew China because she lived in it. In this book she explores different generations of Chinese women, the daughters having been educated in America, and how they react to Communist China following the Revolution. I am torn to side with any of the four women; I sympathize with them all. Madame Liang, Grace, Mercy and Joy make their choices in life, and this book is about the result of those choices. It is a deep and personal look into the way Communism can affect a family. An unsettling book, but beautiful, and a welcome glance into a culture of which I knew very little.


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