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Peony in Love Audiobook

Peony in Love: A Novel

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Publisher's Summary

"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 novel, based on actual historical events, takes readers back to 17th-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, and 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.

©2007 Lisa See; (P)2007 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Peony's vibrant voice, perfectly pitched between the novel's historical and passionate depths, carries her story beautifully." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (450 )
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  •  
    Janice Budd Canada 05-11-11
    Janice Budd Canada 05-11-11 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Life Imitating Art"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathryn Calistoga, CA, USA 07-14-10
    Kathryn Calistoga, CA, USA 07-14-10 Member Since 2010
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    "An amazing accomplishment for Lisa See"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan River Forest, IL, United States 07-05-10
    Susan River Forest, IL, United States 07-05-10 Member Since 2013
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    "Well-written, beautifully read"

    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."

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bob Maryland, USA 12-04-09
    Bob Maryland, USA 12-04-09 Member Since 2016

    Bob

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    "Wonderful 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 .

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Melinda Galveston, TX, USA 11-17-09
    Melinda Galveston, TX, USA 11-17-09 Member Since 2012
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    "Another amazing story!"

    Another perfectly amazing story that sucks you in and keeps you riveted to the last word.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Annette Scotts Valley, CA, USA 10-08-09
    Annette Scotts Valley, CA, USA 10-08-09 Member Since 2012
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    "Stick with it"

    I almost didn't continue with this book, because it starts so slow and predictable. But it's well worth sticking it out. The story picks up pace, leads you on an unexpected and exciting journey, and I wished it had gone on for many more chapters. Learning about the culture was also amazing. Topics usually never discussed about China. Fabulous read!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tiffany E Saller Corona, CA United States 06-01-09
    Tiffany E Saller Corona, CA United States 06-01-09 Member Since 2007

    tsaller

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Interesting"

    I liked that this book dealt with the customs and beliefs of the Chinese afterlife. . . I just didn't realize it would do it quite the way it did. I too figured out the big "groom mystery" right away as another reviewer said.

    I found this book to be very unusual. I still can't say that I really liked it. I enjoyed Snow Flower and the Secret Fan much more. I do, however, love the narration. Janet Song does an excellent job.

    If you are deciding between Memoirs of a Geisha or Snow Flower and this one, I would say go with either of those before this one. I think not knowing more about the Asian afterlife traditions dampened my enjoyment of this book. I do think about it quite a bit, so it did make an impression, but in the end it was just too odd for my taste.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy Goldsboro, NC, USA 05-04-09
    Kathy Goldsboro, NC, USA 05-04-09 Member Since 2011
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    "haunting"

    This was a strange book; it did not follow the same type format that I expected. There were unexpected twists and turns, and I kept getting irritated with the main character for not doing what I considered to be obvious (in our culture, not in hers). I found I liked it more after I had finished it- it was one of those books that you keep thinking about.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Monica 02-06-08
    Monica 02-06-08
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    "peony in love"

    Very good. well written and well read. Tells the life a Chinese girl moving towards womanhood and includes customs of that period.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary Ann Brentwood, NY, USA 08-08-07
    Mary Ann Brentwood, NY, USA 08-08-07 Member Since 2017
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    "Wah wah wah"

    The story is just so repetitive and boring that I can't believe I managed to finish it. I figured out the big groom mystery right away. If you are expecting something as good as Memoirs of a Geisha, you will be very disappointed. Very little story, very much whining.

    4 of 9 people found this review helpful

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