For young Peony, betrothed to a suitor she has never met, 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.
"Unusual and excellent book"
"Not quite as good as her other books."
In 17th-century China, the Manchus have seized power and crushed the Ming dynasty. But in an elaborate villa on the shores of Huanzhou's West Lake, Peony lives a sheltered life with her wealthy family, trapped like a good-luck cricket in a bamboo and lacquer cage. Though raised to be obedient, Peony is inspired by the spirited heroine in the opera The Peony Pavillion and develops dreams of her own. When she catches sight of an elegant, handsome man, she begins to resent her betrothal.