Friday, February 21, 2014

The Eternal Wonder by Pearl S. Buck

As a Pearl Buck fan, I was thrilled to see that they’d found a manuscript by her last year. She died 40 years ago, and to think there were words penned by her hand that had not been seen by the public was truly a thrill. But how the book came to be is even more interesting.

How The Eternal Wonder Came to Be

Buck’s son, Edgar Walsh, received a message in late 2012 about a manuscript that was found in a Texas storage locker. The person who bought the locker said that they’d found a 300 page manuscript penned in Pearl Buck’s own hand. Beneath the handwritten copy was a typewritten version.

The family had dealt with some issues toward the end of Buck’s life. Walsh talks about them in detail in the forward of The Eternal Wonder, namely that some of the people Buck had helping her toward the end of her life took advantage. Walsh’s brothers and sisters didn’t have the control over their mother’s work as they would have liked.

This makes the discovery of The Eternal Wonder even more amazing, and if you’re a Pearl Buck fan, you’ll finally be able to devour her final work.

Still Good, But Unfair to Judge It Against Earlier Works

The Eternal Wonder is described as a “coming-of-age story of Randolph Colfax (Rann for short), an extraordinarily gifted young man whose search for meaning and purpose leads him to New York, England, Paris, on a mission patrolling the DMZ in Korea that will change his life forever—and, ultimately, to love.”

As I mentioned, Buck could write on just about anything and I’d read it. The Eternal Wonder has that direct yet thought-provoking vibe she’s known for, and since it’s her last work I really enjoyed it. If you’re new to her work, however, I’d stick with her earlier books.

It’s rather unfair to judge a final (and as far as we know, not yet completed) book after someone’s death. Buck’s husband, who had edited her work for years, was not a part of this book, and I can’t help thinking that if he had tightened it up it would be more attune to what we’d expect from her work. Even with that, it’s a cerebral journey, leaving you thinking about the main character Rann and what he represents in society today.

Cherie Burbach specializes in writing about lifestyle and relationships. Visit her website for more info.
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