Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Peony in Love
by Lisa See
Rating:  4/5

Pages: 399
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Publication Date: (above edition) 2008
ISBN: 978-0-7475-9273-0

Summary (via Goodreads)

"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 new novel, based on actual historical events, takes readers back to seventeenth-century China, after the Manchus seize power and the Ming dynasty is crushed

Review - Possible Spoilers

I have to admit, at first I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy this book. The first few pages intrigued me but didn't draw me in the way other Lisa See books have in the past. However, I'm really glad I continued reading as by about page 6 or so I was hooked. Set against the backdrop of old China, the book follows Peony, a beautiful, young, rich girl who falls in love...really in love.

Despite tragedy striking Peony continues to develop throughout the book until she fully understands the true meaning of love. I thought this book was a beautiful account of first and last loves, loss and coming-of-age as only Lisa See could create.

The book also refers to a very interesting period of Chinese history where girls literally were dying over love. I personally enjoyed this element as it was something I had never previously heard of and thought it showed how fiction in any form can influence people.

I recommend this book to any YA reader who has an interest in romance or fantasy for its charming portrayal of both.

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