This book is a beautiful story of a "lovesick" young women in Japan during the 16th and 17th Century. How women while under much stress from a lifestyle chosen for them they were able to become published poets and writers. I would recommend this book to all teenage girls to inspire them to learn from history and to be thankful for all that life as given them through the strides of the women before them.
This is a very peaceful book filled with hope for a better life.
Peony's Grandmother and Mother.
The scenes in the Garden prior to The Peony Pavilion.
This book caused me to think about my life and the life beyond. The ideas and teachings of the Japanese regarding the life beyond causes one to reflect on how one is living today.
I recognize that this is a personal distaste, and maybe it's because I want things to "work out", but I can't stand the plot-line of missed connections! "If only...." and things like that. But, it is a crucial part of the plot so it can't really be changed.
I...actually stopped listening after a certain point in the story. I put it away and didn't pick it up again for a long time. Once I did though, I was absolutely fascinated by Chinese death rituals and beliefs surrounding the afterlife. I ostensibly picked this book because I read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and LOVED it so I was looking forward to another great book by Lisa See. I found myself unable to get invested in the story after a certain point, I was just so turned off. But then I found out I was going to go live in Hong Kong for a year, so I decided to give it another try. Learning about Chinese culture through this book was the best part about it for me--the story, eh. For me, not so much.
I've recently discovered Lisa See and her works and have been very pleased! This book was very different to the others. It's my fault for not reading the synopsis. I was not expecting it to be so "ghostly". I liked it...not as much as her other works but I liked it. I'd recommend her other books before this one.
I am consistently and continually moved by Lisa See's writing. She expresses the passion and sadness in a girl, woman's heart. In this story she illustrates the separation between our romantic yearnings and the truth about love and the divergent worlds of men and women. She is truly more than a novelist, but is a poet who has miraculously channeled the hearts and spirits of many through her writing. Anyone who does not understand what she is trying to say here, should dig deeper. This is not merely for our entertainment...Ms. See is telling us truths we all need to know.
I loved "Snowflower" and though very different, "Peony" was wonderful on so many levels. The culture, the history, the story itself. I was enchanted and have highly recommended it to my daughters. Janet Song brings incredible magic to the wonderful story. I'm on my way to listen to "Shanghai Girls."
This book is a story of life imitating art.
Peony becomes obsessed with the opera, "The Peony Pavillion" and with a young man she meets when her father stages a production of the opera. While she longs for her young poet, she knows that she is betrothed to another man and that she will never have more than the three meetings with the man she loves. She becomes love sick, and dies before her wedding, just like the main character in the opera. Can her poet and their love bring her back to life, just like story line of "The Peony Pavillion"?
I really like the point of view of this story. For most of the novel, the narrator is Peony's ghost. The afterlife believed by the Chinese is wonderfully portrayed by this story. Love doesn't die with death. Love continues on in the spirit world.
Not only does love continue in the spirit world, but also the desire to be heard. It is that desire that drives Peony more than the desire for love. That desire is what fuels her obsession with the opera and her project of writing a commentary on it.
I'll be thinking of this story for a while.
I thought the narrator was a bit breathy and it took me a while to get into her style. However, I appreciated her far more after I listened to the sample of the abridged audiobook.
I have read/listened to this book at least 4 times over the past few years. (Yes, I'm a re-reader.) There may be a few slow spots to get through (but I don't notice them anymore), but overall I find it wonderfully poetic, well-plotted, and highly informative as to the Chinese culture of the first Manchu era. The description of The Cataclysm is very, very well done, even if it is painful reading/listening.
I use part of this book in the Comparative Religion college course I teach because it really brings to life the complex afterlife beliefs of Chinese tradition -- and students always relax when we read something from a contemporary novel. (A nice change from all those primary texts and creation stories!)
I obtained (via Amazon) the English opera libretto of The Peony Pavilion and have been reading that along with this most recent listen to Peony in Love. Having done this tandem listen / read, I have even more appreciation or, perhaps, awe for See's accomplishment. What she has done is really pretty staggering, using the classic opera as a basis for the novel and having characters in the novel act in parallel to what happens to characters in the opera. The closest other book I can think of that affects me with such awe for sheer literary ability is A.S. Byatt's Possession. Yes, I listen to that every year, too.
Although tough to stick with at points, I'm glad I stayed through the end. This book is beautifully written and read perfectly, rich in detail and well-researched and constructed. So much of what I already knew of Chinese culture was put into context in a way that made it real for me. I wish I had heard the author's notes before I heard the book, however, because I know I would have appreciated it more had I realized as I was listening that it was a work of historical fiction that was actually based in fact, even though it would have given some of the story away. In any case, the characters have stayed with me - a sure sign of a good "read."
This is a book that will entice and stimulate you. It is one of her best books. Get lost in her wonderful world. You will not regret it. Yeah I am a straight guy, not that that matters .