Finished: May 2008
** Spring Reading Thing 2008
** Another Bloomin' Challenge
First Sentence: "Two days before my sixteenth birthday, I woke up so early that my maid was still asleep on the floor at the foot of my bed."
Last Sentence: "Until then, I would live for him in my writings."
I so enjoyed this book!! When it first came out I was very excited to see it because I had already read Lisa See's Snow Flower and the Secret Fan which I had totally loved. But then on a couple of forums which I read and posted on, readers were kind of slamming it for being much more philosophical and technical than See's first book and they just weren't enjoying it as a whole. So, I put this book on the back burner--the WAY back burner. But then, Esther posted her Bloomin' Challenge and I needed a book with a flower in the title, I decided to bite the bullet and pull this one out of the dust to read.
The story is a complicated one, so I am going to post a synopsis from Amazon as it would take me forever to describe this book to you--(being succinct and non-rambling is not something I excel in!) I will say that it is a beautiful love story, steeped in ancient Chinese beliefs. The theme of a mother-love brought tears to my eyes several times throughout the book.
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. 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. See (Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, etc.) offers meticulous depiction of women's roles in Qing and Ming dynasty China (including horrifying foot-binding scenes) and vivid descriptions of daily Qing life, festivals and rituals. Peony's vibrant voice, perfectly pitched between the novel's historical and passionate depths, carries her story beautifully—in life and afterlife. (July)
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