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Peony in Love by Lisa See
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Peony in Love (2007)

by Lisa See

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2,394None2,592 (3.57)184
17th century (36) 2007 (17) 2008 (23) afterlife (32) arranged marriage (21) Asian (10) audio (14) audiobook (16) book club (9) China (259) Chinese (11) Chinese culture (16) death (16) fiction (224) footbinding (15) ghosts (79) historical (34) historical fiction (170) history (14) love (43) love story (13) novel (23) opera (36) own (14) read (20) read in 2007 (11) romance (32) to-read (71) unread (12) women (48)
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  1. 61
    Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (emib, mcdougaldd)
    mcdougaldd: Both are about women's roles in 17th century China. The author is very good at describing the times and attitudes.
  2. 41
    Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (leahsimone)
  3. 41
    Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden (leahsimone)
  4. 20
    The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (leahsimone)
  5. 20
    The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson (PghDragonMan)
    PghDragonMan: Different premise but makes use of what happens to souls in the afterlife
  6. 21
    The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan (loriephillips)
  7. 00
    The Secrets of Jin-shei by Alma Alexander (Yorkist)
  8. 11
    Saving Fish from Drowning by Amy Tan (PghDragonMan)
    PghDragonMan: Ghosts reach into our world to complete tasks left undone
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» See also 184 mentions

English (110)  German (1)  All languages (111)
Showing 1-5 of 110 (next | show all)
Love story that also tells a story of culture, females and writers from the 17th century. ( )
  Kristelh | Nov 16, 2013 |
Lisa See è veramente bravissima!Adoro il suo modo di scrivere e di trasportarmi in mondi lontani....
La storia di Peonia è stata struggente e bellissima, e fino alla fine sono rimasta col dubbio sul finale, su come poteva finire la sua storia. Quando ho letto le note di Lisa, finito il libro, ed ho scoperto che il libro era tratto da fatti e persone che sono esistite veramente, sono rimasta senza parole sulla meticolosità nel ricercare queste meravigliose storie che l'autrice ha portato su carta per noi e devo dire che è stato interessante sapere come vivono i riti funerari i cinesi, il culto dei morti e dei loro antenati. Bello bello bello!Grazie ancora Lisa per questo libro meraviglioso!
( )
  Emanuela.Booklove | Oct 6, 2013 |
Lisa See knows how to weave a story full of richness and historical accuracy that is hard to put down.

“Two days before my sixteenth birthday, I woke up so early that my maid was still asleep on the floor at the foot of my bed. I should have scolded Willow, but I didn’t because I wanted a few moments alone to savor my excitement.”

Peony is young woman from a wealthy family in Ming Dynasty China about to be married to a man she has never met but whose father had been a good friend to her own father. Though her mother does not approve, Peony is allowed to attend an opera, The Peony Pavilion, in the garden of the Cheng Family Villa on the eve of her sixteenth birthday, which her father is presenting to curry favor with powerful business interests. There she meets a man who will change her life and set her on a journey where she learns about love and relationships, betrayal and sacrifice, and women and their place and voice in society.

It took me awhile to get into the story. Not because the language wasn’t lush and beautiful, or because the story wasn’t engaging, but in the beginning I was lost trying to keep up with what was going on in the opera along the introduction of multiple characters, and all their theories and trains of thought early in the novel. I was having a hard time keeping it straight and I didn’t think I was going to make it through. The opera is a fairly central piece of the story and I was confused about its theories of love and the afterlife. There was also the aspect of adjusting to a different culture. As usual the foot binding scenes leave me very squeamish. But, with a little bit of patience with the first the first few chapters, this book unfolds into a wonderful and rich story, and I learned so much about women writers in ancient times and how they were allowed to step forward and be heard in a unique period in history.

See’s attention to the details of the culture are astounding and once I was able to adjust to all that was going on I was riveted and couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. See (no pun intended!) an example:

“On the second night, when the Manchus slaughtered our servants in the main courtyard, my husband reminded and his concubines that we were to safeguard our chastity with our lives and that all women should be prepared to make sacrifices for their husbands and sons. The concubines were still concerned with the fate of their gowns, powders, jewels and ornaments, but your mother and I did not need to hear this admonition. We knew our duty. We were prepared too do the correct thing.”

I know that I will be reading the rest of her work! ( )
  daniellnic | Sep 25, 2013 |
Really enjoyed this coming of age story of a young girl in ancient China -- the unexpected plot twist added a lot. ( )
  chndlrs | May 28, 2013 |
I didn't really appreciate the story until close to the end. It's much more sentimental than her other books, I'd say. ( )
  JessieP73 | Apr 6, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 110 (next | show all)
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For BOB LOOMIS, in celebration of his fifty years at Random House
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Two days before my sixteenth birthday, I woke up so early that my maid was still asleep on the floor at the foot of my bed.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812975227, Paperback)

“I finally understand what the poets have written. In spring, moved to passion; in autumn only regret.”

For young Peony, betrothed to a suitor she has never met, these lyrics from The Peony Pavilion mirror her own longings. In the garden of the Chen Family Villa, amid the scent of ginger, green tea, and jasmine, a small theatrical troupe is performing scenes from this epic opera, a live spectacle few females have ever seen. Like the heroine in the drama, Peony is the cloistered daughter of a wealthy family, trapped like a good-luck cricket in a bamboo-and-lacquer cage. Though raised to be obedient, Peony has dreams of her own.

Peony’s mother is against her daughter’s attending the production: “Unmarried girls should not be seen in public.” But Peony’s father assures his wife that proprieties will be maintained, and that the women will watch the opera from behind a screen. Yet through its cracks, Peony catches sight of an elegant, handsome man with hair as black as a cave–and is immediately overcome with emotion.

So begins Peony’s unforgettable journey of love and destiny, desire and sorrow–as Lisa See’s haunting new novel, based on actual historical events, takes readers back to seventeenth-century China, after the Manchus seize power and the Ming dynasty is crushed.

Steeped in traditions and ritual, this story brings to life another time and place–even the intricate realm of the afterworld, with its protocols, pathways, and stages of existence, a vividly imagined place where one’s soul is divided into three, ancestors offer guidance, misdeeds are punished, and hungry ghosts wander the earth. Immersed in the richness and magic of the Chinese vision of the afterlife, transcending even death, Peony in Love explores, beautifully, the many manifestations of love. Ultimately, Lisa See’s new novel addresses universal themes: the bonds of friendship, the power of words, and the age-old desire of women to be heard.


From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:54:39 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

In seventeenth-century China, three women become emotionally involved with "The Peony Pavilion," a famed opera rumored to cause lovesickness and even death.

» see all 5 descriptions

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