a biography of the author's mother
Introduction by Charles W. Hayford
This is the biography of an American woman in China. It is the life story of Pearl Buck’s mother. Everything in it is true except the names of the people are changed. Much of it the author learned from her mother’s lips and diaries; the rest from her own observation.
Caroline Stulting Sydenstricker’s (Carie’s in the book) childhood was passed happily in the hills of West Virginia, from which she went, the bride of a missionary, to spend a rigorous life in the interior of China. There, with warmth and vigor and understanding, she taught and served a strange people, spending her strength upon them. Of the seven children she bore, only three would grow up; only one, the author, was born in America, in the stately house which, to the exiled mother, was forever home. But even in a far country, the dauntless woman made an American home with an American garden and held always before herself and her children the bright remembrance that they were American and in the face of all danger and grief and bewilderment kept to the end a flaming spirit and a stout heart.
“Merely as a story this book is as absorbing as any novel: it has suspense and excitment in its happenings, development and conflict in its characters, beauty and horror and strangeness in its changing background ... Though it tears the heart with pity again and again, it is no tragedy. And it is in deepest truth American. Clear, incandescent, gripping in its interest, written in a style of beauty and unerring rightness, this “Portrait of an American Mother” is an epic of our country. It is one of the noblest epics of our day.” -- New York Times
ISBN 1-59988-005-9 (pb) $29.95