Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Book Review : Peony In Love by Lisa See


Peony in Love by Lisa See: Book Cover

Read the synopsis of Peony In Love

My review:

Peony In Love is a captivating story set in the seventeenth century China, encircling a young maiden (Peony) from a prominent family. Despaired of being caught in an arranged marriage, Peony starves herself to death, only to learn right before her death that the man her father has picked for her is the man she loves. Her journey in both the mundane world and the after-world gives me insight of the traditional bounds and spiritual beliefs of the people in China. This story introduced me to the women who secretly yearns for true love, besides trying to win respect and achieving freedom in a male-dominated society.

“An educated woman is a worthless woman.” Because of this popular adage, almost all of the women in China lost their chance to get a proper education and thus, only the men has ultimate power. Any woman’s writing, even if it were an excellent piece, would be considered not worthy of reading. However, some of the women writers did get their works published to express their opinions and thoughts on various subjects to make sure that their words can be heard by everyone.

Peony died at a young age, but instead of resting in peace, her soul kept roaming the human’s world because her ancestor’s tablet was not dotted, and she could not continue her journey. Even though she was a ghost, she still loved her poet, and tried to make him happy in all ways.

Lisa See’s writing is still as skillful and beautiful as ever. The love between Peony and her poet seems fairytale-like. At first I thought that it was merely a puppy love, but soon I realized that I was wrong. They loved each other deeply, even though they have only met each other for four times. Peony's life resembles that of the main character of the famous The Peony Pavilion, an opera she was quite obsessed with.

The Chinese’s foot-binding tradition has always enchanted and horrified me at the same time. The girls had to endure great pain to shape their feet into perfect three-inch lilies. In the "Spring Sickness In Summer" chapter, you will know more about the procedure of foot-binding, when Peony’s mother binds her niece’s feet.

I also read about marriage preparations, obsequies rituals, as well as the ghost marriage, which is still performed in some places nowadays. Well, I won’t deny that I find that some parts of the story are not logical, especially the part where she helps Qian Yi conceive a son. But after all, Peony is a ghost, isn’t she?

Through this novel, I learned about different aspects of love, uncover the truth that has been kept a secret by Peony’s parents and hear the voices of the women who wanted to be heard through their works of literature. Peony In Love is hauntingly beautiful…it’s definitely a book worth reading.

Rating : 9 / 10

A great THANK YOU to dear Lisa for sending me a paperback copy of Peony In Love. I really appreciate your kindness and generosity.

Read more about Peony In Love on Lisa See's Website

About the author:

Lisa See, author of the critically-acclaimed international bestseller, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (2005), has always been intrigued by stories that have been lost, forgotten, or deliberately covered up, whether in the past or happening right now in the world today. Ms See is probably best known for Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, for which she traveled to a remote area of China—where she was told she was only the second foreigner ever to visit—to research the secret writing invented, used, and kept a secret by women for over a thousand years.


Purchase Peony In Love from:
Amazon (Hardcover)
Amazon (Paperback)
Barnes & Noble (Hardcover)
Barnes & Noble (Paperback)
Random House (Hardcover)
Random House (Paperback)

6 comments:

elsiee said...

Your review has definitely put Peony In Love on my list - thanks!

Mary in Wonder said...

oh, I try to read everything China and Japan related. The books that shows the traditions and all those inhumanity women have to endure. I hate men and these countries for it, and I learned to cherish the freedom and rights our ancestors reached for us. Giving their blood to show those d*ckheads we are equal and/or better than them!

This sounds such a heartwrecking story! ^_^ Poor girl! and she's gonna "live" like that forever? Being a ghost sucks @_@

Aik said...

Thanks for your comments, Elsiee and Mary!

Mary, I'm so excited to know that you like reading stories about China too! I agree with you, women are always considered the weaker sex in the olden days, but not anymore!

As far as I know, they believe the deceased can be reincarnated, whether as a human or an animal, depending on the good and/or bad you've done when you were alive.

Mary in Wonder said...

Ah, then I hope Peony will reincarnate! ^.^ For a while must be fun to be a ghost, but not till the end of time...
Hey, so if you were bad, then you can't be reborn? That sucks! Then Heaven-Hell is a waaay better option! ><

samsstuff said...

I thoroughly enjoyed "Snow Flower & the Secret Fan" & it's depiction of another time & another society. I will have to pick up a copy of this, as well. Thanks for the review!

Lucy said...

I've added both of the authors books to my list. I find books about the traditions of China fascinating. Other cultures are always of interest to me. Thank you for bring this to my attention.