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Peony in Love: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, June 26, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Set in 17th-century China, See's fifth novel is a coming-of-age story, a ghost story, a family saga and a work of musical and social history. As Peony, the 15-year-old daughter of the wealthy Chen family, approaches an arranged marriage, she commits an unthinkable breach of etiquette when she accidentally comes upon a man who has entered the family garden. Unusually for a girl of her time, Peony has been educated and revels in studying The Peony Pavilion, a real opera published in 1598, as the repercussions of the meeting unfold. The novel's plot mirrors that of the opera, and eternal themes abound: an intelligent girl chafing against the restrictions of expected behavior; fiction's educative powers; the rocky path of love between lovers and in families. It figures into the plot that generations of young Chinese women, known as the lovesick maidens, became obsessed with The Peony Pavilion, and, in a Werther-like passion, many starved themselves to death. See (Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, etc.) offers meticulous depiction of women's roles in Qing and Ming dynasty China (including horrifying foot-binding scenes) and vivid descriptions of daily Qing life, festivals and rituals. Peony's vibrant voice, perfectly pitched between the novel's historical and passionate depths, carries her story beautifully—in life and afterlife. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From Bookmarks Magazine
If critical responses to Peony in Love are a bit uneven, consider that they follow the breakout success of Lisa See's previous novel, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (**** Sept/Oct 2005). See continues to base her work on China's history, and her thorough research shines here. However, the richness of detail threatens to overshadow the narrative, a fault which prompts one reviewer to assert that Peony in Love, whose plot mirrors that of an opera and which serves up themes of love, inspiration, and creativity, would be have been better as a work of history than a novel. But for historically accurate, impassioned fiction about China's women, See has few peers.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.
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It centers around the opera "The Peony Pavilion." This opera has a haunting effect on young girls, who long for true love in their arranged marriages. The main female named "Peony" loves this opera and has 2 copies of it. This opera tells of a young woman who longs for a true love for her mate, but doesn't receive the husband of her desire.
She becomes a "ghost wife" in the afterlife. This story sadly come true for Peony Herself. I was amazed at the multi-faceted afterlife of the Japanese. I also believe in ancestor veneration, but to the Japanese it is a matter of a happy afterlife or one of complete loneliness and despair.
A great journey into the spiritual afterlife and the quest to find true love, here on earth and the hereafter.
This book takes you on an adventure where you will soar with happiness and cry with despair. It has everything in it. Teaches us how it was to live in China all those years ago. You may get to a point where you want to stop reading the book. Put it down and give yourself a few days and then pick it right back up again. You will be SO glad you did!
Another wonderful historical fiction, Lisa! Thank you for sharing your wonders with us. For that I am truly grateful.
When I think of peony, I think of a flower that needs help opening. Notice how the ants work to open the petals. Next time, take a moment to see how beautiful life truly is.
(Obviously she spends a lot of time doing research to be able to write with such clarity and understanding of her characters and the places they inhabit.)
It doesn't matter if she is writing the story of her own family in On Gold Mountain, or the three books, that make up The Red Princess Trilogy, Flower Net, The Interior and Dragon Bones, or the historical novels, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Peony in Love or finally Shanghai Girls and Dreams of Joy, you are taken into the lives of the characters and feel as though you are in the places they inhabit. She develops a sense of place and time as deeply as she develops her characters.
I read all of these books over a two month period.
I was felt as though I was living in China in several incarnations.
Lisa's writing enveloped me in every story. I was sorry when I finished the last book. I still feel like I left a familiar world and came back to the unsure world of reality.
Then I saw she has a new book to be released in June!
I can't wait.
By Linda Linguvic (New York City) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Peony in Love: A Novel (Paperback)
I love Lisa See's books and was anxious to read this earlier one from 2008. It's set in 17th century China and starts out as a 15 year old girl named Peony is preparing for her arranged marriage. The details of her life are fascinating and I immediately related to her hopes and dreams and lifestyle. Her wealthy family has arranged a performance of the opera called "The Peony Pavilion" which is a complex story of unrequited love and ghosts. During the opera Peony has a chance meeting with a young man in the garden. She falls in love with him and then dreads her future arranged marriage. It all feels very real and I felt myself transported back in time and related to Peony who is lovesick and now resists her arranged marriage by refusing food.
All of a sudden something horrific and unexpected happens that I was totally unprepared for. At that point I almost put the book down and didn't want to read any more.
However, I did pick it up again and continued reading what became, in effect, a ghost story. Soon I was caught up in the drama of it all and learned more than I ever wanted to know about ancient Chinese beliefs about ancestors, ghosts and the world of the dead. Some of this was hard to take for my western mind.
By the end of the book I had learned about a belief system I never knew existed, felt an appreciation for the author who tried to incorporate it into this novel and do acknowledge her scrupulous research and attention to detail. Yes, I did love the book but because I didn't quite "get" it all, I have to stop just short of giving it my highest recommendation.
Most recent customer reviews
See never does a bad job.
Learrned so much about how and why they do things the way they do and their belief...Read more