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Peach Blossom Pavilion by Mingmei Yip
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Peach Blossom Pavilion

by Mingmei Yip

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Received in ebook format from Netgalley, this is a first person narrative of the 13year old Xiang Xiang who ends up as a prostitute in China in the early part of the 20th century. She learns not only the ways of the bedroom, but also the cultural arts, and rarely forgets her mother or her dead father.

Over the next few decades she tells of her life as she develops some self awareness as to what she does and doesn't want, and tries to find some peace with her life and her choices.

There is little reference to events in the outside world and the large political events affecting either China and it's only in the last portion of her life that the outside world breaks in. There is *some* reference to the physical work Xiang Xiang does as a prostitute, but much of it is couched in the euphemisms of the time and place so little to offend (but there is some more base swear words).

As she moves to each new section of her life Xiang Xiang both gains and loses something (or someone) - something she seems to do with relative ease. She spends several years in a lesbian relationship, and drops that as soon as she comes across a Taoist monk who she then falls madly in love with and spends a year with only to drop him in favour of the lesbian. Few years later, they part and Xiang Xiang's lover is almost never thought of again - her death at the hands of their mutual enemy is written in the epilogue, almost as an afterthought.

So in summary: the book is technically competent, with an interesting story that could have had some more depth around the characters and plot - there is a taste and acceptance for longer books regarding China, by Chinese authors (Wild Swans anyone?) so would have lost little to nothing in additional items being added.
  nordie | Feb 23, 2014 |
a very beautiful cover that the content doesn't deserve. it was okay...but rather plain and less than sweeping. ( )
  EhEh | Apr 3, 2013 |
An entertaining novel set in early twentieth-century China. After a series of family misfortunes, the young Xiang Xiang finds herself in a brothel called Peach Blossom Pavilion, where she is trained to be a ming ji, a prestigious prostitute. Xiang Xiang's path is fraught with tragedy and betrayal, but she nevertheless manages to escape Peach Blossom Pavilion, only to discover that her life in the brothel continues to haunt her. A good read, definitely for those who enjoy historical fiction set in China. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | Dec 9, 2011 |
Peach Blossom Pavilion is a story about the last Chinese courtesan, ming ji. It's much like The Last Geisha. It is rich in details, beautiful in dialogue, and the story is dramatic to the point of being a soap opera. Interwoven into the multiple layered story are beautiful Chinese tales, songs, and poetry. They are so in-depth that you are amazed at how well they are translated intp English. I loved the book as well as I love The Last Geisha but this one is better because it feels more real and more research given into it.

On a side note, I find myself haunted by one particular tale: the story of the couple who the gods put up in the sky as stars but separated them by a river of stars. And on the 7th night of the 7th moon, a flock of magpies would form a bridge so that the two could see each other. On that night, there would a festival for lovers to come out to see each other. How utterly romantic even as sad as it is. ( )
  lina_em | Apr 13, 2010 |
I really liked this book. I was not sure what I was getting into when I got this book, but I do love surprises. I liked how it started with her being the old woman and recounting her story to her granddaughter. It was very interesting how you can almost feel the disconnection she had with human emotions, and then was suddenly overwhelmed by the impact a person can make without knowing what has happened.
I do not know if this is one I will suggest to my daughter, as it does talk alot about sex, but for someone else a little more mature...absolutely. ( )
  angela.vaughn | Dec 9, 2009 |
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Book description
When Precious Orchid's father is falsely accused of a crime and found guilty, he is executed, leaving his family a legacy of dishonor. Her mother's only option is to enter a Buddhist nunnery, so she gives her daughter over to the care of her sister in Shanghai.

At first, life at Peach Blossom Pavilion feels like a dream. Surrounded by exotic flowers, murmuring fountains, colorful fishponds, and bamboo groves, Precious Orchid sees herself thriving. She is schooled in music, literature, painting, calligraphy, and to her innocent surprise, the art of pleasuring men. For the beautiful Pavilion hides its darker purpose as an elite house of prostitution. And even as she commands the devotion of China's most powerful men, Precious Orchid never gives up on her dream to escape the Pavilion, be reunited with her mother, avenge her father's death, and find true love. And as the richest, most celebrated Ming Ji or "prestigious courtesan" in all of China, she just might have her way even if it comes with a devastating price...

Sweeping in scope and stunning in its evocation of China, Peach Blossom Pavilion is a remarkable novel with an unforgettable heroine at the heart of its powerful story...
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0758220146, Paperback)

When Precious Orchid's father is falsely accused of a crime and found guilty, he is executed, leaving his family a legacy of dishonour. Her mother's only option is to enter a Buddhist nunnery, so she gives her daughter over to the care of her sister in Shanghai.At first, life at Peach Blossom Pavilion feels like a dream. Surrounded by exotic flowers, murmuring fountains, colourful fishponds, and bamboo groves, Precious Orchid sees herself thriving. She is schooled in music, literature, painting, calligraphy, and to her innocent surprise, the art of pleasuring men. For the beautiful Pavilion hides its darker purpose as an elite house of prostitution. And even as she commands the devotion of China's most powerful men, Precious Orchid never gives up on her dream to escape the Pavilion, be reunited with her mother, avenge her father's death, and find true love. And as the richest, most celebrated Ming Ji or "prestigious courtesan" in all of China, she just might have her way even if it comes with a devastating price...Sweeping in scope and stunning in its evocation of China, "Peach Blossom Pavilion" is a remarkable novel with an unforgettable heroine at the heart of its powerful story...

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:04 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A woman tells her great-grandmother's story of her life in China. Precious Orchid's story tells how, when her family's name has been falsely dishonored, she was sent away to be cared for by a distant relative in Shanghai. The young girl finds the ideal life at Peach Blossom Pavilion until she discovers the dark secret of this elite house of prostitution. She plots to avenge her father's death and escape her fate.… (more)

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