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Three daughters of Madame Liang – Pearl S Buck

August 13, 2007

Three daughters of Madame Liang, published first in 1969 is one of the last pieces of Pearl S Buck’s work. I’ve read more than half a dozen of her pieces of work and, this one is as lucid, as deceptively simple and yet deep as others.

Through the book, Three daughters of Madame Liang, Pearl S Buck takes you into the story of a family, the family of Madame Liang. After her husband takes a concubine, because she could produce no son, Madame Liang leaves him. She sets out on her own and opens a gourmet restaurant in Shanghai. In the times of great turmoil, when good food is scarce, her restaurant survives by providing the best food to the Who’s who of People’s Republic. She, prudently keeps her opinions of the Republic to herself and lives in constant fear. She sends her three daughters – Grace, Mercy and Joy to a much safer world – America.

Grace, the eldest of them is summoned by the government to serve the nation. She returns to immerse herself into her service as a doctor and studying ancient Chinese medicine to compare it with the modern medicine in which she was trained. Grace falls in love with Liu Pang, a young physician despite knowing, he is narrow minded and has been brainwashed into communism. She adapts herself to new China.

Mercy, the younger daughter, a musician convinces her husband John Sung, a rocket scientist to return to China for self-fulfillment. They flee from America. Though, a communist China does not have any use of a musician, she could make use of the services of Mercy’s husband. But John sung refuses to create weapons and gets himself into trouble. Mercy’s experience with new China, forces her to escape.

The bitter sweet chemistry between Grace and Mercy, motivated by their changing loyalties to China is interesting. Madame Liang is deeply saddened by the two sisters growing apart but resigns since she could not live their lives for them.

Joy, the youngest daughter stays in America, never to return. She finds love in a fellow Chinese artist and settles down.

Pearl Buck paints a picture of Cultural Revolution through the very personal accounts and view points of people in Madame Liang’s family. The story is fast paced and the book, un-put-downable.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Hannah permalink
    September 5, 2009 6:57 am

    how would you describe madame liang physically? What does she wear? What are her characteristics? Tnx. 🙂

    • September 9, 2009 6:54 pm

      Madame Liang, at 55 was slender and strong. She wears simple and elegant gowns when she goes to her restaurant. In her quaters upstrais, she would wear silk and satin gowns in pretty colors like – pale green, gray and apple green.

  2. Hannah permalink
    September 10, 2009 6:59 pm

    what kind of gowns? can you send me a link of a picture that looks like what she wears? tnx.

    • September 11, 2009 11:08 am

      Hey! I found an old book cover that shows Madame Liang. You can check out the gown she is wearing there.

      Some times Madame Liang would wear loose night robes and sometimes long silk and satin gowns – that are “close fitting” and would “reveal her hips”. I think this description fits chenogsams.

  3. Vítor permalink
    February 25, 2010 3:21 am

    Hi! Can you tell me how does Madame Liang feels about her culture and communism and does this story happens in the 60’s? Thanks

  4. October 10, 2014 10:13 pm

    Hello, according to me Madame Liang excuses her people for what happened because the leaders of the two sides (Kuomintang-Mao) should have found solutions to the problems instead of overthrowing the whole system.


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