This book instantly captivated me. It completely immersed me in the unfamiliar world of 17th-century China. The writing was so beautiful I often slowed my reading to savor it, but at the same time, the story was so compelling I wanted to turn pages faster.
I fell in love with Lisa See's heroine, the good-hearted, headstrong and emotional Peony, and eagerly journeyed with her through her life and afterlife. Along the way I pondered the novel's many themes: the nature of true love, the miscommunications that keep people from understanding one another, the joys of reading and writing, and what it means to be truly human.
This was a stunning, beautiful work, one that I will treasure and read again and again.
Historical fiction book cum ghost story set just after the fall of the Ming Dynasty in China. It's the story of Peony, a teenage girl who is obsessed by a book that was made into an opera called The Peony Pavilion that was popular at the time in China. The book/opera is the story of a star-crossed young couple where the young girl dies and visits her love in a dream and he eventually brings her back to life from her ghost world. Peony becomes lovesick when she meets a young man the night of her sixteenth birthday when her father hosts a production of the opera at their home. Although she is betrothed to another, she schemes ways to get out of that arranged marriage and marry her mystery poet. She stops eating and literally becomes deathly ill, thinking that if she dies, her beloved, like the character in the opera, will bring her back to life and they'll live happily ever after. I really wasn't sure I'd like this book--it's not 'my kind' of book but I received an ARC of it to review for Random House. I love historical fiction, but I'm not much into chick lit, love stories/romance and all that, but this book was much more than that. It was an excellent STORY, and it had elements from many different genres--paranormal, historical, fantasy, women's literature, etc. but most of all the author's captivating writing style kept me reading til the end. I enjoyed the foray into the beliefs about death/ancestors/afterlife from that time period in China--something I had not read much about before. The ending, by the way, I thought a bit sappy and I was disappointed with it, but overall I'd say it's another great book for this author.
Lisa See has a writing style that quickly allows the reader to become absorbed in the book. This style makes Peony in Love an engaging and fairly easy read, even if the reader has never read The Peony Pavilion, which is the Chinese opera that inspired Sees novel.
Peony in Love is broken into three sections, the first of which is fairly slow going. It is obvious from the first section that the story is going to mirror The Peony Pavilion in that it will be a love story, but a love story that crosses both the mortal and immortal worlds. Even though the storyline is obvious, See manages to keep the plot moving in a way that leaves the reader with the desire to finish the story. However, there isnt the emotional engagement with the characters that is present in some of her other works, like Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.
The other two sections of the book move in a fairly predictable direction, with a few unexpected twists and turns. Without giving away the end of the story, the rest of the book tells a common coming of age story in an uncommon way. Thoroughly researched Chinese culture and history is weaved throughout the tale in a way that makes the reader understand the full implications of being a woman in 17th Century China. The book is dramatic and tragic, yet there is a feeling of optimism that cant be ignored.
See clearly does a significant amount of research into the controversy that the The Peony Pavilion caused throughout Chinese history, which gives the book a depth that contributes to its charm. However, the plot itself is less enchanting, which ultimately makes Peony in Love a good, but not great book.
This was a hard one for me. I was enjoying it until about a third of the way through. You see, I didn't actually READ the description, so what happened - well, I wasn't expecting it and it made me so MAD. I literally slammed this book shut and stalked off. I felt cheated. In some ways, I think I still do. BUT the book is really very good. I learned a lot about Chinese culture and beliefs. I've always been drawn to "things" that are Chinese (I one day want to redo my living room with that influence, if I can talk the husband into it!). And while the historical fiction like this is not something I would have read before, I am really starting to enjoy some of it. The key for me is there has to be a good story to drag me in. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan didn't disappoint and this one, in the end, didn't either. A good read.
I quite enjoyed this story, more so than "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan". The love story, the poetry and the cultural details -- funeral and wedding rituals, various celebrations -- were all fascinating. Recommended.
Maybe you need to be in the right kind of mood to read this book. I dont think I was. It was well researched and well written but I just couldnt get into the dream sequences,the opera, the ghost wives ect. If you are a Chinese history buff it may be right up your alley - but I just got bored. I loved Snow flower and the secret fan so I was a bit dissapointed.
Not deep reading, but very interesting. I could not identify with the characters and their situation, but I was fascinated by the moment of time that was captured here, and See's prose is a delight to read.
I loved this book. It was both magical and heartbreaking. It's a book I won't forget easily. Set in 17th century China, the story revolves around Peony, the only daughter of very wealthy parents who love her very much. She has never been outside of her family's large estate. Months before her wedding, the sixteen year old Peony has an encounter with a very handsome cultured poet who shares many of her literary interests. He too is engaged as she is to someone chosen for him by his family. What happens next is very memorable, sad, and magical. I felt angry when the first part of the book ended. But the second half is where the story really takes off. The change in Peony, her growth as a person, a woman, and a daughter/grandaughter is remarkable. She is no longer the spoiled egocentric daughter, but someone far more wordly and altruistic.
There are some paragraphs providing detailed information about footbinding that might be too might for some, but you can always skip those sections. I highly recommend this book. Lisa See has written another amazing story.
another wonderful and entertaining book about love, chinese history and culture. a highly fictionalized account of an actual manuscript and the emergence of women writers in 17th century china. this was engrossing to the point where i woke at 6am to finish reading it.
Peony In Love is one of the most compelling, intriguing, and hard-to-shake books I have ever read, and I have quite a collection of books set-in and about life in China. This is the third of Lisa See's books that I have read this year. I am hooked.
Peony is a sixteen-year old, upper-class, Chinese girl: cloistered, protected, naive, and prepared to 'marry-out'. She is more educated than is the norm and has been exposed to a play, which will later be banned in China, "The Peony Pavilion". She becomes obsessed with the theme of the play--ideal of romantic love--and the path of her life is forever changed.
The novel pulls us into the heart of Chinese culture shortly after the Ming dynasty ended: the world of foot-binding, arranged marriages, the quiet rebellion of women who write and fight to hide their intellects, and the spiritual/religious beliefs of the Chinese people. It is impossible to put down. It is even more fascinating when you read the author's notes which reveal that the story is based on real events. Telling more would spoil the book for someone else.
I loved this book so much, I won't be passing it along. It has become part of my permanent collection of Chinese-themed books.
this heartbreaking story is told on two levels, the ethereal and real life in ancient China. Inspired by a true story about a true opera this author, one of my favorites, may have tried too hard here. i was at times enthralled,annoyed,disappointed and finally relieved that the book was over.
i have good knowledge of Chinese history and traditions but this book took it that one step too far for me particularly on the ethereal level. it still was a a good book but this author has done better.
I really liked See's other book, Snowflower and the Screet Fan. Peony In Love, however got on my nerves. I couldn't say what was really different between the two, but i couldn't relate to Peony at all.
I really loved this book, but I can see how it wouldn't be for everyone. I really enjoyed a different perspective to read regarding the subject of the Chinese culture and their beliefs in death and the afterlife.
I love this book. Although this book is fiction, it is historically accurate, and many of the characters and scenarios in thebook actually existed and happened. It's a fascinating read and it transports you to a world and a life that's so alien and unique. I highly recommend this book!
Brilliant! In a quiet, graceful way, Lisa See introduces us to the cloistered life of a young Chinese girl. The longings, the delicacy and the deep introspection of a young, spoiled girl are beautifully captured. When she makes moonlight forbidden - yet oh so innocent - trysts with a young poet visiting her house it's almost unbearably romantic! Then the plot takes a few major twists as the story mimics the girl's favorite opera. Lots of insight into Chinese culture, virtues and sophisticated pettiness of a cloistered female society. I was entranced!! I will definitely have to read more from Lisa See!
Fantastic!!! Its based on a young girl's obsession with the real Chinese Opera, The Peony Pavilion. Its set in seventeenth-century China and is full of culture and tradition from that time. So interesting, I'll definitely read it again sometime and I will pick up other work by Lisa See.
Lisa See does not disappoint in this story of women's rights and freedom. Anyone who has ever wanted to write, create, or express herself will be enthralled by this story of a Chinese woman who finds maturity and wisdom through a long ordeal. As usual, Lisa See educates the reader about the practices and customs of a traditional Chinese household. A thoroughly enjoyable story, well written, and expertly told.
I enjoyed this, even the supernatural parts...but I had to keep reminding myself that Peony was a teenager and not a full grown woman, which explained a great deal of her general dumbness. 16 year-olds are the same no matter where and no matter when!
I wasn't a huge fan. It was okay but not as good as my friend said. The entire book takes place as a fantasy, not realty. If you get into ancient Chinese beliefs about ghosts and the afterlife you might get more enjoyment out of it than I did.
I really liked Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. This book is even better. It is such an original story and told in wonderful lyrical prose. The characters are finely drawn and the intersection of the worlds of the living and the dead is vivid, believable and absorbing. It makes one think about the meaning of love in a new way. This is a beautiful book with fascinating historical detail and it is a page turner! I highly recommend it.
This is my favorite Lisa See book. It is a wonderfully touching story. I hate to say too much and give away anything. I will warn you that it is a touch depressing. All of her books are depressing but they are wonderful reads as well. This one is by far the most rewarding.
As Always Lisa See's writing is mesmerizing, characters well fleshed out and the drama well drawn. The book is divided to 3 parts and I LOVED the first part absolutely. However when the main character dies off at the end of patr 1 I got al little confused. Part 2 begins with the main character as a GHOST. It is steeped in tradition and Chinese believes of afterlife, a bit on the heavy side. It is not that I didn't enjoyed learning about other culture's customs, but that Peony was a 'hungry' (unsatisfied, imporperly burried) ghost was a litle too much to accept. Part 3 of the book gives resolution, a bit predictable I think.
SPOILER ALERT: Peony's second sister wife kills her self (imitating Peony) and her ghost tries to kill their third sister wife. Peony resolves the second (ghost) wife's anger and sends her to afterlife. Then finally Peony's tablet is properly marked and she too is free to move on.
CONCLUSION: A bit of a scifi but well written non the less
A very different sort of love story! This book is very well written. Lisa See's writing is very descriptive...actually captivating. Peony in Love is a tale involving "love sickness" (which probably was anorexia nervosa present even in mid-17th century China), perceptions of the after-life, and even early feminism and ideas on women's rights. It's a great book! For me, I can't honestly say that it was a page turner, but I read it at a time in my life when I didn't always have the time to devote to becoming absorbed in a novel, so that might be the reason why. If you like love stories, and if you are interested in Chinese history and culture, I think you will enjoy this book!
Lisa See's stories of Chinese culture's effects on its women capivate me. Foot binding, the birth of chinatown in San Francisco, arranged marriages, paper sons and the bonding of women that starts in childhood are the reasons I seek out her books.
Lisa See continues to amaze me. Her books have the ability to move me, educate me and transport me to another place and time. When the book took a different turn in the middle, it unnerved me and I thought that I might not finish it. I'm glad that I stuck with it. Beautifully written, I cried through most of the book. Jodi Long has once again made the book come alive for me. So talented. A powerful book and I very highly recommend.
I did not like the book. It took a long time to describe things. I had wanted to learn about Chinese and feet binding and it was sort of glossed over. Had heard Lisa See was a good author but I wasn't impressed.
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.
Peonys mother is against her daughters attending the production: Unmarried girls should not be seen in public. But Peonys 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 caveand is immediately overcome with emotion.
So begins Peonys unforgettable journey of love and destiny, desire and sorrowas Lisa Sees 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 placeeven the intricate realm of the afterworld, with its protocols, pathways, and stages of existence, a vividly imagined place where ones 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 Sees new novel addresses universal themes: the bonds of friendship, the power of words, and the age-old desire of women to be heard.
Although it was interesting to learn about life in 17th century China, I found this book very hard to read. The style did not hold my interest, and the same information could have been conveyed in far fewer words. The plot seemed very contrived and the characters one-dimensional.
I was captivated and had to listen to all 5 discs to find out how the story ended. Nice voice for reader "jodi Long". I did prefer the first Lisa See novel "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" but welcomed the gentle culture of Peony.