This book has been on my TBR list for ages. Since before I read Snow Flower and the
Secret Fan a year and a half ago. And
boy am I glad that I finally got to it.
First, your teasers.
My two favorite passages occurred a mere page apart:
“Quite by accident – except that it
had to be fate interfering – he found the box with Liniang’s rolled-up
self-portrait scroll.” p. 34
“Perhaps he was as afraid as I was
that we’d be caught. Or perhaps he was
breathing me in just as I was letting him come into my lungs, my eyes, my
heart.” p. 35
Now, my thoughts.
Peony in Love was fantastic.
It’s part historical fiction, part ghost story, part coming of age. It is a story about growing up, accepting
changes, and most of all love – romantic love, sexual love, familial love. The greatest of which is probably the womanly
love formed between mothers and daughters (which can also be the toughest love
In the conversation with Lisa See at the end, she mentions
that she wrote this to show that women (who may be been silenced) have not been silent throughout history. While there may be little record of it, women
were always thinking, writing, creating.
See also mentions that she believes women still struggle to have their
voices heard. How many times do we find
our husbands and boyfriends not really listening to us? How many times growing up did we ignore our
mother’s request to clean our room and immediately obey our father’s. This actually sparked an interesting
discussion between Ben and me. We have
about as egalitarian a relationship as you can get, yet there may be traces of
this in existence (then again, sometimes I don’t listen to Ben, too).
When I read this book, I didn’t realize that the characters
were based on real people. I assumed
some of the basis for the story was true – I figured The Peony Pavillion was a
real book, but that was as far as I thought the history went. After finishing the book and reading the
Author’s Note, I learned that the characters of Peony, Ze, Ti, and Wu Ren all
existed and The Three Wive’s Commentary is
real. This makes their story so much
more compelling to me. Part of the
reason I love Lisa See’s novels is because it is a chance to learn about
Chinese history and culture. When the
story intertwines with real history, it enhances that experience.
I loved Peony in Love even more than Snow Flower and the
Secret Fan. I can’t wait to get to
Out of curiosity, has anyone read her earlier novels?