Peony in Love by Lisa See (2008)
Description: In seventeenth-century China, in an elaborate villa on the shores of Hangzhou's West Lake, Peony lives a sheltered life. One night, during a theatrical performance in her family's garden Peony catches sign of an elegant, handsome man and is immediately overcome with emotion. So begins Peony's unforgettable journey of love and destiny, desire and sorrow, the living world and the afterworld. Eventually expelled from all she's known, Peony is thrust into a realm where hungry ghosts wander the earth, written words have the power to hurt and ill, and dreams are as vivid as waking life. Lisa See's novel, based on actual historical events, evokes vividly another time and place-where three generations of women become enmeshed in a dramatic story, uncover past secrets and tragedies, and learn that love can transcend death. Peony in Love will make you ache in heart and mind for young Peony and all the women of the world who want to be heard.
Review: From the start we are given an elegant view into the lives of women during seventeenth-century China. Peony is from a noble family and is kept hidden from the world around her. She is educated and very emotional, which worries her mother. Her mother wants her to become a good wife, but all Peony can think of is that she is being handed over to a strange family through marriage. For her sixteenth birthday, Peony's father puts on a production of the opera, The Peony Pavilion, which changes her life forever. We then follow Peony on the journey through her young death, and extensive afterlife and she how she and others change in the afterlife.
The world that Lisa See created was beautiful. Through her writing, we are transported to another time and place. See most definitely did her research and it shows. However, I still found the novel predictable and lagging at times. I also found some of the choices that Peony made to be strange, but I admit that may be a cultural difference. Overall, this is a good novel that was well written.
Score 3 out of 5