I really did enjoy this one. I thought that Buck had a good handle on the characters. The main reason why I didn't give this five stars though is that I was confused about the timeline and location of this book. I know that it takes place in China. But the way things are written I would have guessed earlier than what the book shows. The book ends with talk of communism and people being executed for it. So I was wondering what time period this takes place in when I got to the end. I also wish that Buck had tied up the loose end of the husband a bit better.
"The Mother" has an unnamed woman (Mother) is left reeling when her husband (too pretty and too ready to have a good time) abandons her, their three children (two sons and a daughter) and his mother. She scrambles and does what is necessary in order to survive in her village without allowing anyone to guess that she has been left due to the stigma that would cause.
I thought that the mother was not a hard character to get to know. She does what she can to keep her family whole and you feel sorry for her at times when she realizes how foolish she has been when she starts to obsess about another man. I like that Buck doesn't show any judgement once again about what choices this character makes. The story is told in a linear fashion. We start with the Mother giving birth to one male son and then her subsequent pregnancies. The story follows her from her marriage to her oldest son making her a grandmother. I think that it shows a nice cycle of what women are to expect in there later years in this community once they grow old and their children start a life of their own.
I liked the writing and thought the flow was consistent throughout. I do wish that I had better sense of the location and time period.
The story ends with the Mother being given some hope. Though I wonder if her life ends up the same way as her mother in law's did.