“If life were known one moment ahead, how could it be endured?” ーPearl S. Buck, Pavilion of Women
At the very first 100 pages I thought this book was too drama for me. A story about a very perfect Madame Wu. She’s smarter than any women her age, very calm, beautiful, and perfect and always dutifully solved the problem for everybody in the house, brought in a concubine for her husband, picked wives for all her sons, arranged whatever she thought would be necessary to make everybody’s life happier according to her intelligence and old tradition, maintain discipline and order to keep the house perfect. The book was pretty dense and loaded with details which I was quite impertinent for this. BUT, there’re something addictive about this story. I keep on reading and really appreciate the plots and characters development. It paid off so beautifully at the end. I really like it.
Then, the plots twisted and my heart flipped. This is such a thought provoking narrative about a woman who saught liberation and freedom at the beginning of her midlife. While trying to manage her family, husbands, sons, in-laws and friends, she’s also on a journey to search for her own freedom. Yet everything fell apart. Until meeting with the foreign priest, the lessons he gave her changed her perspective so much toward life, love and freedom. This part is probably my most favorite dialogues in the book.
“You are right,” he had said. “Love is not the word. No one can love his neighbor. Say, rather, ‘Know thy neighbor as thyself.” That is, comprehend his hardships and understand his position, deal with his faults as gently as with your own. Do not judge him where you do not judge yourself. Madame, this is the meaning of the word love.”
On top of so many lessons and takes away, this book portrayed a beautiful details about the very traditional old Chinese culture that was also part of the foundation of Asian culture.