Customer Reviews for

Peony in Love

Average Rating 4
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

A reviewer

With too much intelligent history to be pegged a romance, Peony in Love is, indeed, romantic. It is a tale of love and death in 17th century China - a time of Cataclysm and a place where, pound for pound, salt was more valuable than women. Painting her words on a ghostl...
With too much intelligent history to be pegged a romance, Peony in Love is, indeed, romantic. It is a tale of love and death in 17th century China - a time of Cataclysm and a place where, pound for pound, salt was more valuable than women. Painting her words on a ghostly dreamscape, See once again explores themes of love, language and the strength of women amidst a revealing and sometimes disturbing history................ Already promised in marriage, young Peony Chen falls in love under the spell of her favorite opera, The Peony Pavillion. Fated to follow in the footsteps of the opera's heroine, Peony dies of lovesickness soon thereafter. It is only after she dies and her tortured soul waits to be dispersed in the proper way that she learns her beloved and her betrothed were one in the same. Now a hungry ghost, Peony hopes to be reconciled with Wu Ren just as her opera heroine was reunited with her own true love............. But Peony confronts many obstacles, the least of which is the unfinished state of her written critical commentary on The Peony Pavillion. Although abundant in number and talent, China's earliest female writers were often published posthumously and anonymously. Yet, working between the worlds of life and death, Peony manages to have her work published and, more important, her words recognized by Wu Ren................ What kind of reconciliation can Peony possibly expect when so many ancient rules were broken, so many rituals left unperformed? How can a ghost-wife love a husband who loves someone else? See's rich writing style will keep you turning pages for answers. Drawing from resources including Tang Xianzu's opera The Peony Pavillion 'first published in 1598', Wu Wushan's Three Wives' Collaborative Commentary on The Peony Pavillion, Jingmei Chen's dissertation The Dream World of Love-Sick Maidens, a plethora of scholarly research and personal interviews See weaves a haunting blend of history and love.

posted by Anonymous on January 26, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

4 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

Surprising dissapointment

Earlier I had read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, by Lisa See, which I loved. This prompted me to buy Peony in Love. What an unexpected dissapointment...I wonder are the authors other books as wonderful at Snow Flower.

posted by Anonymous on August 4, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2008

    Surprising dissapointment

    Earlier I had read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, by Lisa See, which I loved. This prompted me to buy Peony in Love. What an unexpected dissapointment...I wonder are the authors other books as wonderful at Snow Flower.

    4 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 15, 2010

    Boring and overly fantasized

    I really thought this would be an interesting story from the background and other reviews. However, I found it relatively boring, childish and too sweet for my tastes. If you like the unrealistic romances spiritual and otherwise this book is for you.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2012

    Very disappointing!

    After reading this authors other two books and enjoying them very much this was a real disapointment. Very tediuos and hard to relate to a ghost. Not my cup of tea!

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  • Posted August 26, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Tragic Love Story

    This book is a blend of historical perspective combined with the spiritual life of 17th century China. A 9 hours long opera 'The Peony Pavilion' written by Tan Xianzu in 1598 provides the framework. The opera tells a tale of lovesick young women who fall in love go on a hunger strike and gradually waist away only to be reborn after their death as ghosts.

    The author's tale is a mix of spirituality, cultural details, tradition, superstitions and everyday life experiences. The story opens with 16 year old Peony and other young women watching through a slit in the viewing screen the opening performance of 'The Peony Pavilion', custom does not allow them to mix with the male audience. During a poignant moment in the performance Peony catches a glimpse of Wu Ren, a handsome young man in the audience. Overcome by emotion she leaves the room and as destiny would have it, she eventually encounters him in a courtyard near the lakeside pavilion'..it is an encounter that launches a love story with all the atmosphere of the period'..

    This tragic love story takes us through a mystical journey to hell, with demons, ghosts and sword fighting. The main character Peony narrates her life in a rather lackluster manner and appears a little naïve when devastated by cruel twists of fate. When she reappears as a ghost the story become monotonous, a constant tale of stalking and obsessiveness and the slow pacing became overwhelming and I found myself quickly losing interest and eventually wondered how I made it to the last page.

    In all fairness, there are interesting parts that add a tad of substance to the tale, I found the background information about the Cataclysm, the Manchu overthrow of the Ming regime and the beliefs and ritual of the people to be interesting.

    I may not have appreciated this novel to its fullest but others have and others will.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 19, 2009

    Found it very long.

    Enjoyed the historical details, but found the book dragged on very long. I definitely think tighter editing would have improved this book hugely. It was a good Book Club choice because there were several good issues that could be discussed, i.e. role of women, foot-binding, etc., but I didn't particularly enjoy reading it.

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  • Posted September 25, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    I couldn't get through it

    I have enjoyed Lisa See's books before - especially Snow Flower and the Secret Fan - but I had a hard time feeling for Peony who got too wrapped up in her fantasies to survive. I admit I only got about half way through the book but couldn't accept the premise. I just put it down. Perhaps some day, if I'm in an extremely sensitive mood, I will continue it, but I have too many other books I want to read. By the way, I don't care for fantasy in general, so maybe I'm not a good target for this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2008

    Such a Bore!

    I loved Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, so I was excited about picking this book. Unfortunately, Peony in Love is so incredibly dull, boring, and ridiculous. The characters are annoying, unsympathetic and unmoving. The heroine starves herself to death because she may have to marry the wrong man?!?! That's not the kind of strong, inspiring heroine I want to read about. I read through the 1st part and that all I can take. Save yourself the trouble and don't even bother to start!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2008

    Totally disappointing

    Not worth reading. I have read 'Snow Flower and Secret Fan' earlier and am a big fan of Lisa See. I was excited when I got this book (after a huge waiting list at library) and was hooked to it till the end of first part. The second part was a shocker. I could not relate to it any longer and generally skimmed through it (which was painstakingly long). Ultimately I could not take it any longer and have returned it library (god bless whoever reads it next) Definitely not recommended.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2007

    dissapointed

    I am only half way through this book- where Peony enters the afterworld- and am so dissapointed that she died, I had to put the book down. The afterworld is getting a little boring and I am so sadened that I have no interest in this book...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2007

    A major let down

    This book was a let down. I LOVED LOVED LOVED Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and couldn't wait for this book to come out. But alas, i found the story contrite, the characters annoying and just bored to tears. I wont give up on Ms. See but i just hope that the next time she doesnt get so bogged down by trying to tell too many stories at the same time.

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