Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Peony in Love: A Novel by Lisa See

Peony in Love: A Novel (original 2007; edition 2008)

by Lisa See

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,4541162,508 (3.56)190
Title:Peony in Love: A Novel
Authors:Lisa See
Info:Random House Trade Paperbacks (2008), Paperback, 297 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

Peony in Love by Lisa See (2007)

  1. 51
    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

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 190 mentions

English (115)  German (1)  All languages (116)
Showing 1-5 of 115 (next | show all)
I almost didn't finish this book; the first part was really tough to get through. I was surprised because I like Lisa See. I read a few other reviews to see if my judgment was way off the mark, and several others commented that it got much better after part 2. I completely agree with that - it was almost as if another author wrote the first part.

I'm glad I stuck with it though. The novel as a whole was a very informative review of ancient Chinese culture and told in a very refreshing manner. I enjoyed it. ( )
  carebear10712 | Dec 31, 2014 |
Peony in Love is one of my favorite novels of the last decade. It’s a poetic, beautifully written journey; a Chinese ghost story that draws you past the thin veil between life and death into the Chinese culture of ghosts. With passions that transcend time and death, Peony in Love is poetry. I was sad when I finished it because I didn’t want to leave the story. ( )
  mindyshalleck | Oct 29, 2014 |
3.5 stars

Peony is only a few days from her 16th birthday when she meets the man she falls hard for and he for her. Unfortunately, this is 17th century China and she is betrothed (as is he).

I didn't want to say too much in the summary so as to give anything away. Overall, I liked the book. It wasn't fast-moving. I was a bit bored with all the comparisons to the opera, but I liked the rest of the story. It was interesting to read the author's note (and interview) at the end of my edition to find out that this story was based on real people. ( )
  LibraryCin | Sep 30, 2014 |
Peony In Love

This book purports to be an historical novel of China, during or just after the Ming Dynasty (if memory serves me), and may be based on true events of those Chinese women of several hundred years ago.

The book was a bit pretentious, repetitive and at times was so predictable, I really wanted to toss the book out the window as a failed experiment. And there were other times where the novel captured the arrogant men and the subservient women, which women practiced foot-binding, that the author gave in such excruciating detail, that it left nothing to the imagination.

Peony was proud of her bound feet and not to concerned about a few broken bone shards sticking out. She filed them down nicely! Ouch!

The book centers around a Chinese opera called Peony's Pavilion. And our young narrator is also called Peony. And her grandmother is called Peony. The repetition was maddening.

But not only in name but in deed!

Peony is pampered and is allowed to read the love story as depicted in the opera Peony's Pavilion. The character in the tale dies of a broken heart ("love-sick maids") by starving herself to death. The character then haunts her lover and he eventually works it out somehow to bring her back to life.

Peony also knows that men are only allowed to see this opera. The opera can go on for a day or so it is so long. And any women that are allowed to see it, must do so behind a screen so that the men don't see them. Peony wanders and runs into a guy that she immediately falls for.

At the time, her father has arranged a marriage with some man.

[Spoiler: It is so obvious that this man is the same guy that she has been engaged to be married to, it's laughable. So predictable. End Spoiler].

Well, Peony starves herself to death and then haunts her lover, just like in the opera. And, when her lover marries another, Peony's control over this girl is such that this girl (Ze) starts starving to death herself!

Peony is a reclusive, selfish teenage girl, who has made up her mind as to what life is all about and is not about to let others continue to live out their own with her intervention. She wants to be remembered and immortalized, yet has a lot to learn, both in life and in death.

Lisa See writes well regarding Chinese mythology and writes as if these spirits and charms and wards actually work, and show Peony's interaction with hungry ghosts and depraved spirits. I found these caricatures somewhat interesting.

But, not enough to save this sinking ship.

Before you judge the ancient Chinese "tradition" of foot-binding too harshly (and I think it was harsh and horrible, but I digress) I wonder how future generations will look at our present time USA actions of tattooing, piercings and breast augmentation for that elusive socially acceptable "beauty" attainment. Food for thought.

Recommended from a historical perspective as to what Chinese women had to live and strive for when they were looked upon at a level not much above cattle and bags of rice.
( )
  jmourgos | Sep 12, 2014 |
This book was very well written and easy to read. It was set in ancient China and not only was it about a romantic relationship between the main character and Ren, but it was also about the main character and other women in general -- including her mother. 4Q3P The cover art is okay and I'd recommend this for high school students and adults. I chose to read this book because my mother recommended it to me. MadelynnS
  edspicer | Jun 17, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 115 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
For BOB LOOMIS, in celebration of his fifty years at Random House
First words
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.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
Haiku summary

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.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 5 descriptions

LibraryThing Author

Lisa See is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

profile page | author page

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (3.56)
0.5 1
1 32
1.5 7
2 57
2.5 22
3 190
3.5 45
4 254
4.5 26
5 130


4 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

LibraryThing Early Reviewers Alumn

Peony in Love by Lisa See was made available through LibraryThing Early Reviewers. Sign up to possibly get pre-publication copies of books.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 96,164,293 books! | Top bar: Always visible