East Wind: West Wind is told from the eyes of a traditional Chinese girl, Kwei-lan, married to a Chinese medical doctor, educated abroad. The story follows Kwei-lan as she begins to accept different points of view from the western world, and re-discovers her sense of self through this coming-of-age narrative.
I've read quite a few books by Pearl Buck when I was in my teens and recently I have been thinking of rereading some. I found a copy of this one a few weeks ago and just couldn't resist it.
As the title suggests this is a story about two influences colliding. It is set in the beginning of the 20th century and it depicts the life of a young Chinese woman who has been raised according to tradition. And the changes she goes through after marrying a Chinese doctor who has been raised in the West. Not only she has to face a reality different from what she was expecting - her new husband doesn't find her traditional ways and bound feet attractive - but also those around her (namely her parents and her husband parents) must face the change that is coming. After Kwei-Lan and her husband finally develop a true relationship the action shifts a bit towards her brother who brings home a western bride much to the horror of his parents.
This was a short but very engaging read. It is all from the female characters point of view and while I missed having a more comprehensive view of people's feelings I think it worked very well as a coming-of-age story. It is written as a series of letters and I wondered if Buck herself is supposed to be the recipient of those.
I remember when first reading Buck that I was very intrigued by the way of life of old Chinese women and, especially, their bound feet. This story brought all that to mind and I am looking forward to pick more books by her or indeed other books set in China.