Monday, September 20, 2010
Synopsis from Amazon:
Set in 17th-century China, See's fifth novel is a coming-of-age story, a ghost story, a family saga and a work of musical and social history. As Peony, the 15-year-old daughter of the wealthy Chen family, approaches an arranged marriage, she commits an unthinkable breach of etiquette when she accidentally comes upon a man who has entered the family garden. Unusually for a girl of her time, Peony has been educated and revels in studying The Peony Pavilion, a real opera published in 1598, as the repercussions of the meeting unfold. The novel's plot mirrors that of the opera, and eternal themes abound: an intelligent girl chafing against the restrictions of expected behavior; fiction's educative powers; the rocky path of love between lovers and in families. It figures into the plot that generations of young Chinese women, known as the lovesick maidens, became obsessed with The Peony Pavilion, and, in a Werther-like passion, many starved themselves to death.
I have read most of Lisa See's other books and I really like her writing style. Peony in Love was very different from her other books. It is set much earlier, in the 17th century. The most interesting thing about the book is that the main character, Peony, is dead for most of it. This was a very interesting way to tell the story. At first I didn't like Peony. I thought she was spoiled and shallow, but as the story progressed, her character got more likable. Like all of See's books, the writing was great and the story was well told. She is one of the author's who I will read all of her work.