A good book

What exactly is a good book? Well, obviously one that we enjoy reading. And that will be different for each of us. A thriller, a travel book, a novel. Whatever your choice of genre however, three critical attributes are necessary for a book to qualify as a good book. Strong characters, a real sense of time and place, and writing that is clear, unfussy and draws you in.

I have just finished reading such a book, in fact it is a remarkable book. Not only for the story it tells, but the way in which it tells it. The book is ‘Burying the Bones’ by Hilary Spurling. A biography of the American writer Pearl Buck and particularly her love affair with China in the early twentieth century.

Buck’s story is remarkable. Born in America, she was taken by her missionary parents from her homeland to a remote area of China. A country and a people she immediately identified with. Indeed until she was eight she thought she was Chinese. She spoke Chinese before she learned English. Her education was haphazard to say the least. Despite this she wrote The Good Earth which won her a Pulitzer prize and the Nobel Prize for literature.

Her life was never less than dramatic, but it is the way in which Hilary Spurling tells Buck’s story that makes the book so enthralling. She is a terrific storyteller, the book reads like a thriller. This book is a must for any writer, or aspiring writer. I urge you to read it.