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Download The Good Earth Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (106,145 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Pearl S. Buck Narrator: Anthony Heald Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Related: The House of Earth Trilogy Release Date:
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"The Good Earth" is set at the beginning of the 20th century in rural China. It's protagonist is a poor young farmer named Wang Lung, whose parents have arranged for him to marry a 20-year-old slave named O-lan.

Used to back-breaking work, O-lan makes a wife who aims to please her new husband in every way. He holds on to many of the traditions of the past, and particularly to the custom of foot binding. O-lan gives her husband a son and then another. By all practical accounts, Wang Lung should be happy and satisfied.

Over the years, the wealthy and powerful Hwang family, who had been O-lan's owners, experiences their own successes and failures. They spend far too much money and the wife is addicted to opium, another costly and decadent habit. To raise funds, they sell some of their lands to Wang Lung, whose wife has helped him manage their own household more wisely.

"The Good Earth" follows these two families over the coming years and decades and the listener is caught up in the characters, the epic events based on authentic historical events and in the timeless themes of greed, pride and the rise and fall of families, as well as the struggle to maintain time-honored traditions against an ever growing push to achieve in a modern world.

Pearl S. Buck was born in 1892 in Hillsboro, West Virginia. She spent her childhood in China with her missionary parents. Although she attended Randolph-Macon Woman's College in the United States, she returned to China and lived many more years with its people.

Buck wrote a number of novels, including East Wind, West Wind. Sons, and A House Divided. The Good Earth, published in 1931, was her second book.

The Good Earth spent many months on the New York Times Bestseller List, as well as other, best-seller lists. It earned Buck the Pulitzer Prize and the William Dean Howells Medal, in addition to a later Nobel Prize for Literature.

This Pulitzer Prize–winning classic tells the poignant tale of a Chinese farmer and his family in old agrarian China. The humble Wang Lung glories in the soil he works, nurturing the land as it nurtures him and his family. Nearby, the nobles of the House of Hwang consider themselves above the land and its workers, but they will soon meet their own downfall.

Hard times come upon Wang Lung and his family when flood and drought force them to seek work in the city. The working people riot, breaking into the homes of the rich and forcing them to flee. When Wang Lung shows mercy to one noble and is rewarded, he begins to rise in the world, even as the House of Hwang falls.

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Quotes & Awards

  • The Good Earth has style, power, coherence, and a pervasive sense of dramatic reality.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “A comment upon the meaning and tragedy of life as it is lived in any age in any quarter of the globe.”

    New York Times

  • “One of the most important and revealing novels of our time.”

    Pittsburgh Post Gazette

  • “One need never have lived in China or know anything about the Chinese to understand it or respond to its appeal.”

    Boston Transcript

  • “A beautiful, beautiful book. At last we read, in the pages of a novel, of the real people of China.”

    Saturday Review

  • “To read this story of Wang Lung is to be slowly and deeply purified; and when the last page is finished it is as if some significant part of one’s own days were over.”


  • “With the first chapter, a wonderful rendition of a time-honored story begins. Anthony Heald captures Buck’s commentary on the human condition with a humble tone that matches the poignant life of Wang Lung and his wife, Olan, as they eke out a living in rural China. Heald’s performance pays homage to the novel’s historical integrity in its detailed account of the Boxer Rebellion and its aftermath. This is an outstanding production of Buck’s most famous work.”


  • “Heald’s beguiling voice is used to great effect in his impressive reading of this 1932 Pulitzer Prize–winning novel...Heald does not attempt a Chinese accent in his reading of this classic. Instead, he softly eases into tonal shifts...His wise decision not to force a false sound into his reading allows listeners to fully enjoy and luxuriate in the lovely cadence of the narration. A beautiful writer, Buck is a master at controlling the narrative while spinning out delicate and sublime sentences. Heald reads them perfectly, doing what should be done with all literary classics produced in audio format—letting the words take over so that listeners experience the text in a way so profound that they easily immerse themselves into the plot and fall under the writer’s spell. Heald’s fabulous reading is a great achievement, and his subtle changes in tone and inflection to indicate wizened old men and others of varying ages add authenticity to this timeless story. An essential purchase for well-rounded audio collections.”


  • Winner of 1932 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
  • An Oprah’s Book Club Selection
  • A Booklist Editors’ Choice, December 2007
  • A USA Today Bestseller
  • A Publishers Weekly Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Heather Elizabeth | 2/18/2014

    " I was first required to read this book in high school. Back then, I would have said that it was the type of book I attempted to read, but never got into. So, I put it down for a couple years and came back to it about a year ago. I re-read it and really enjoyed it. I've read it a few times now and own the book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Sherrie | 2/15/2014

    " I would have given this book five stars, except for the ending. How can a book with such an honest and positive feel to it end that way? I get what the author was portraying, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Debarati Gautam | 1/15/2014

    " the book sees the promotion,or some may consider the moral degradation of Wang-Lung from a poor humble farmer to a wealthy landowner,the kind he himself used to hate in his early years. the writer has done a terrific job in portraying the characters beautifully.It shows how girls were considered nothing but slaves and wives were only means of satisfying hunger for sex;all that leaves us thinking about how much society has changed today. Wang Lung glorified the land he owned,more than anything,even his kids showing his greed and his submissive first wife having blind faith on him showing her loyalty. his kids grow up to forget how pathetic their childhood was and these disrespectful brats start fighting over the property of their father. all in all,nice book,a must read from my end. leaves your eyes wet with a glimpse of smile in the corner of your lips :) loved it Pearl S. Buck "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Giulia | 1/2/2014

    " Hm...I don't know what I was thinking when I picked this book up years ago. I was much too young to understand what the story was truly about, and to think over it, but now I suppose it was a decent story. Really nothing that interested me greatly for I have no particular adoration for Chinese history, but it was a alright read. "

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