Peony in Love

Peony in Love

A Novel

Book - 2008
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Random House, Inc.
“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.

Baker & Taylor
In seventeenth-century China, three women become emotionally involved with The Peony Pavilion, a famed opera rumored to cause lovesickness and even death, including Peony, the cloistered daughter of a wealthy scholar, who succumbs to its spell only to return after her death as a "hungry ghost" to haunt her former fiancé, who has married another. Reader's Guide included. Reprint. 250,000 first printing.

& Taylor

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

Publisher: New York : Random House, 2008
Edition: Random House Trade Paperback ed
ISBN: 9780812975222
Characteristics: 297 p. ; 21 cm


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Jun 11, 2016

This story has it all! family drama, ghost story, historical romance, family saga, musical history, coming of age, aristocracy.

Aug 21, 2014

This book was different than what I usually enjoy. I picked it up because it was written by Lisa See and I love her books. It starts with a very sheltered and protected 15 year old girl who falls in love and then morphs into a ghost story. That's where it got weird for me and I thought I would hate it....but the longer I read the more I really enjoyed it! The book delves into Chinese after life and it's very interesting. I will say that the first half of the book is very slow (and dare I say, a bit of a snooze) but like I said I pushed on, kept reading and it surprised me how much I enjoyed it. If you want to read this book because you read Snowflower and the Secret Fan, I will warn you it is nothing like that book.

Aug 18, 2012

If you like "ghost stories", this is a good choice. Well written and the storytelling does let you suspend reality, if not cross it into the world of those who have passed.

BookEnthusiast Jul 10, 2012

Nice insight into early Chinese culture and beliefs regarding what occurs in the afterlife, but as others have commented, it can be rather sluggish at times.

Jun 05, 2012

Spoiler alert:This felt like the book that never ends. The story seemed inconsistent at many points. As a ghost Peony is unable to do many physical things which later she is inexplicably able to do. The story is laden with ancient Chinese burial rites and beliefs regarding the afterlife which are many and confusing. Not my favourite Lisa See novel though I did finish it.

Jul 14, 2011

Not my favorite Lisa See novel, but an ok read. A lot of detail paid to ancient Chinese afterlife beliefs and rituals. There were a few exciting and suprising moments as well as some excrutiating descriptions of foot binding, but for the most part the book felt slow moving and weighed down. I was glad to finish it and would recommend any of Lisa See's other novels before trying this one.

mmcv Jul 09, 2010

Nice ending...

Sep 09, 2008

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