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Extended Audio Sample Peony: A Novel of China Audiobook, by Pearl S. Buck Click for printable size audiobook cover
4.46833333333333 out of 54.46833333333333 out of 54.46833333333333 out of 54.46833333333333 out of 54.46833333333333 out of 5 4.47 (30 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Pearl S. Buck Narrator: Kirsten Potter Publisher: Oasis Audio, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 2011 ISBN: 9781608148257
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In 1850s China, a young girl, Peony, is sold to work as a bondmaid for a rich Jewish family in Kaifeng. Jews have lived for centuries in this region of the country, but by the mid-nineteenth century, assimilation has begun taking its toll on their small enclave. When Peony and the family’s son, David, grow up and fall in love with one another, they face strong opposition from every side. Tradition forbids the marriage, and the family already has a rabbi’s daughter in mind for David. 

Long celebrated for its subtle and even-handed treatment of colliding traditions, Peony is an engaging coming-of-age story about love, identity, and the tragedy and beauty found at the intersection of two disparate cultures.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Peony has the vividness of scene and episode and character and the colorful detail that Pearl Buck's readers have come to expect of her novels in China. New York Herald Tribune
  • There is great simplicity in the telling of this tale. Perhaps it is expected, but it is nonetheless splendid. Saturday Review of Literature

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Meghan | 2/11/2014

    " I never knew that Jews escaped persecution by relocating to China, but Pearl S. Buck tells their story, one of assimilation through kindness, that had me thoroughly engrossed. Peony, a bondmaid in a prominent Jewish household, was a fascinating character in how she demonstrated her love for David, her master. A thought-provoking book. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Orrezz | 1/31/2014

    " for a historical novel about tolerence, it doesn't have much of tolerence or hopes for the future of jewish people "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marcy | 1/30/2014

    " I absolutely relished The Good Earth and read a book about Pearl Buck not long ago. I wanted to read other novels by Ms. Buck, and chose this one. It is about the assimilation of one rich Jewish family living amongst the Chinese people. The family, especially the mother of the Ezra family, desires to keep her Jewish heritage alive, and is determined that her handsome son will marry a Jewish woman, daughter of the local rabbi. The Jewish woman is not loved by the son of Ezra, David, and she takes her own life. The son marries a beautiful Chinese woman, which merges his father's and her father's business. Then there is Peony, the homeless child who is brought into this family to befriend David when he was a child. The love Peony and David feel for one another is not realized by David until much later in his life. Peony lives for David by being his wife's companion, along with David's five children. When David, Peony, and family visit Peking, the eunuch of the Palace wants Peony for himself. You will have to read this book for yourself to find out how this saga ends. I did not recognize Pearl Buck as the writer of this tale. I sense that this is a very different book than others she has written. I would like to read more of her novels. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rebecca Aho | 1/28/2014

    " Fascinating look at China's familial customs of the 1800's, when falling in love had little to do with marriage. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tim | 1/28/2014

    " Written from the point of view of a Chinese servant girl in a wealthy family as she grows up. She and the family's son grow up together as equals and learn to love each other, but as they grow up, have to assume the role of master and servant, and marry according to their class. Especially powerful portrayal of how Peony copes with the compromises and sacrifices dictated by her birth. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Laura | 1/21/2014

    " Interesting look into life as a Chinese bond maid. Found her character a little exasperating, if not heartbreaking. Bordering on stereotyped characterization of Chinese and Jews. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michelle | 1/17/2014

    " I learned that Chinese people treated the Jewish people with kindness even though they were rejected elsewhere. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kathy | 12/3/2013

    " I had kind of a hard time getting into this book--which often happens with me. But it was well worth keeping on reading! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sarah | 12/2/2013

    " One of my faves by this author "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jennifer | 12/1/2013

    " I love all of Pearl Buck's stories set in Asia. I really liked the discussion of conflict between cultures, and whether it is better to become part of the culture where you live, or to hold yourself apart. It made a great book group discussion. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dawn Perrin | 11/23/2013

    " One of the first novels I read as a young girl. My mom got me hooked on Pearl S. Buck. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Peacenow | 11/10/2013

    " Love in a foreign culture. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 100percentlee | 8/17/2013

    " Other than the Good Earth, this is my favorite Buck book. The story was moving and full of drama, even within the first 50 pages. The ending was really something. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Deb G | 5/14/2013

    " One of my favorite books of all time. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Donald | 4/17/2013

    " Delightful story of Chinese servant in homes of Jews in China. Customs of both cultures interacting presented sympathetically. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Fadoua | 3/9/2013

    " A story about a successful exchange between too different culture, namely Chinese and American culture. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lily | 10/21/2012

    " It was an interesting story "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Claire | 8/5/2011

    " I love this book! Pearl Buck is one of my favorite authors. As with most of her novels, this book doesn't end the way that you may wish, but it's the right ending. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Darlene | 7/8/2011

    " One of my favorite books. A story of sacrificial love. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Pearl | 5/23/2011

    " Loved it when I read it at 13 years old and loved it just as much when I read it this year. Then I focussed on the love story. Now I focussed on the Jewish component of the story. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sarah | 5/11/2011

    " The writing, the characters, the plot development! loved, loved! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rebecca | 3/14/2011

    " Fascinating look at China's familial customs of the 1800's, when falling in love had little to do with marriage. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Debbie | 1/22/2011

    " I like to read about China and this had the story of Jews in China. I thought it was very interesting and a good story. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ellie | 1/2/2011

    " I've read this book many, many times since I was a child (most recently last year). It always makes me cry. I love the characters so much. My favorite Buck and one of my favorite books. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ann | 9/7/2010

    " Nicely written, let's one see how the 'household help' felt about serving their westerners. An in-site which is rare. Tradition is so deep in this book. Language syntax was a bit unusual, had to re-read occasionally, but not enough to keep one from continuing on. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Oliver | 7/4/2010

    " Life in the tiny Jewish community in Kaifeng China. An engrossing family story in the most rarefied setting. A fantastic read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Peacenow | 6/22/2010

    " Love in a foreign culture. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Grangoose | 5/20/2010

    " I have enjoyed every book that Pearl Buck ever wrote. She captures the essence of the characters and transports you to the time and place. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Christy | 3/31/2010

    " I really loved this book. I read it years ago but will never forget the impression that it left on my life. I was going through a personal crisis at the time I read it and seemed to find the answers in that novel. I felt like a better person for having read it. "

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About the Author
Author Pearl S. Buck

Pearl S. Buck (1892–1973), the daughter of missionaries, was born in West Virginia but spent most of her time until 1934 in China. She began writing while in China and published her first novel shortly after returning to the United States. Her novel The Good Earth was the bestselling fiction book in the United States in 1931 and 1932, and it won the Pulitzer Prize in 1932. In 1938 she became the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, “for her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China and for her biographical masterpieces.”

About the Narrator

Kirsten Potter, who graduated with highest honors from Boston University, has narrated numerous audiobooks and has performed for television and in theaters across the country. She has won several awards, including eleven AudioFile Earphones Awards, and been a three-time finalist for the prestigious Audie Award for best narration. Her work has been recognized by the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts and by AudioFile magazine, among many others.