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Peony in Love: A Novel

3.58  ·  Rating Details ·  36,401 Ratings  ·  4,007 Reviews
“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
Audio, 0 pages
Published June 26th 2007 by Random House Audio (first published 2007)
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Sep 19, 2011 Kay rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
5/1/14 EDIT: Sooo I stopped checking comments for months, and I come back to either rage or agreement with regard to my review. All I have to say is THERE BE SPOILERS AHEAD. Also, if you're on the fence about whether or not to continue reading this book, don't read this review unless you're set on quitting.

Okay? Okay. Onwards to the actual review!


I just couldn't finish it. And I tried. Really, really tried. Even after studying Chinese history extensively in college, I'm usually not
Aj the Ravenous Reader

“"When people are alive they love, when they die, they keep loving. If love ends when a person dies, that is not real love"

I have a confession to make. I bought this book not by choice but by mere economic benefit. The paperback (the brand new one still wrapped in cellophane) was on sale and I bought it for a very fairly cheap price. Guess how much. (view spoiler)

I was elated to discover that this is a historical novel as I made a re
Jun 30, 2015 Heba rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: love
ومن منا لا يتمنى ذلك الحب الذي يرتقي بنا ويمنحنا الشجاعة الكافية لنتخطى مآسينا الصغيرة وتزهر قلوبنا ..ليس ذلك فحسب بل ونشعر وكأن الآلىء تغمرها...
ولكن ماذا لو أصابت قلوبنا لوعة الحب كزهرة الفاوانيا العاشقة ؟!!
لابد أن سيكون مصيرها كما آل اليه قلبها ..فلقد كان الحب مورد شقاءها ..وتعلقت ما بين الحياة والموت ..وبين السماء والأرض..
عندما تقرأ هذة الرواية وتصطحبك الأحداث ..سرعان ما ستدرك إنك لن تستطيع ان تفرق بين الحلم واليقظة..الوهم والخيال..الأحياء والأموات..
تتناول الرواية حالة الفتيات العذارى فى الص
Sep 12, 2007 Eleyna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
This book is amazing!!! It is beautifully written (lovely descriptions and intricate details), well researched, and unbelievably touching. There were moments where I feel I can't read anymore because I am so overwhelmed with emotion, but I can never put the book down for any real length of time. I have become completely engrossed. The summary of the book is a little misleading. It describes the book as a love story. I do not find it to be one. Peony in Love is a romantic and tragic story. Love p ...more
Feb 19, 2008 Becky rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

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 r
Sarah ~
Nov 15, 2012 Sarah ~ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites

بعدَ أن انتهيت من قراءة هذه الرواية ، لا أعرف كيف أشعر ،
ولا كيف أشرح أحداثها ولا حتى كيف أصيغ عبارات هذه المراجعة ..
مع التركيز على الأخيرة !

منحت الرواية خمس نجمات ..
(أربع للكاتبة والقصة والفكرة ككل و أوبرا حديقة الفاوانيا - ونجمة للترجمة الجميلة جداً و المثالية والخالية من الأخطاء )

تدور هذه الرواية في الصين وفي زمن لم يسمح فيه للنساء بالخروج من المنازل حيث هنَّ حبيسات الغرف الداخلية ، ولا يشاركن بأي شكل في الحياة العامة ،ولا يجب أن يتحدث أحد عن إنجازات إمراة أو يحتفل بها .

إنها عن مجتمع إمتلأ با
Ruba AlTurki
Feb 07, 2011 Ruba AlTurki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
زهرة الفاوانيا العاشقة
رواية تتحدث عن شابة صينية في القرن السابع عشر وقصة عشقها البريئة وأحداث حياتها ووفاتها وعجائب اخرى على مدى اربعين عاما واكثر
للمرة الاولى اقرأ عن الصين وفي الادب الصيني واتعرف على تراث وتقاليد وشعائر وخرافات مبهرة لهذا الشعب العظيم
رغم غرابة واختلاف العديد من الامور والثقافات والاديان والمجتمعات في الرواية عن كل ما اعرفه الا ان اوجه التشابه كانت عديدة ووجدت نفسي في كثير من الافكار والمشاعر ربما لان الرواية تتحدث عن الروابط السرية العميقة بين النساء ارتبطت بها ولكن مما لاشك في
Jan 28, 2008 Stacy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was trying too hard to be existential and had wierd poetry and the story went nowhere, but pretended that it would.
Sep 02, 2007 Caroline rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Peony is a 15-year-old girl in Manchu China who falls in love with the opera The Peony Pavilion, a love story in which the ghost of a girl is brought back to life by the man she loves. Peony's father hosts a production of the opera (which Peony assumes is for her, rather than to impress the powerful men that her father has visiting), and Peony meets a young man three nights in a row. She falls in love with him, but at the end of the third night they know they both must go on to their arranged ma ...more
Nov 06, 2007 Sharon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of Historical Fiction and Romance - it's a perfectly harmonious blend!
Occasionally, rarely, I read a book after which I need to take a few days to come up for air, so to speak. A book that moves me so deeply and which leaves me thinking ...and thinking. Peony in Love is just such a book. A true work of art. Amazing, beginning to end. As I told a friend, I CARED so much about what was happening with the characters, I was literally losing sleep. I wish I could add an extra star to my rating - this is a six-star novel. Kudos to Lisa See for knocking another one out o ...more
Julie Ekkers
Mar 13, 2008 Julie Ekkers rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I just didn't like this book (though I did like Snow Flower and the Secret Fan). To be fair, I didn't expect to like Peony, but one of the reviews said it "belonged in my beach bag,' which sounded like what I was after at the time. I just couldn't get into it. I think because there's SO much exposition of this Chinese opera in the background, and too little (for me anyway) about the main characters. it's also one of these books where everything is set in motion by a COMPLETELY AVOIDABLE misunder ...more
May 24, 2008 YoSafBridg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As i was making my way through the first section of Peony in Love, i was beginning to think i should have paid more heed to the valentine heart on its spine (my library system's way of signifying that it was of the romance genre) because Peony was mooning like a lovesick girl who knew not enough of the world and it was all just a little overmuch for me.

But then she died, and it got so much better. I had rather eagerly anticipated this novel, because i had loved Lisa See's last, Snow Flower and t
Nojood Alsudairi
Oct 21, 2011 Nojood Alsudairi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nojood by: رهام
فجعني الموت ولم أعرف أنه البداية لعالم غريب من الأسلاف والأشباح الجائعة. كم هو قاس الشرق على المرأة وكم أجرمت الصين في حقها حتى في المعتقدات والأساطير. المرأة التي تموت عند الولادة يحكم على روحها أن تذهب إلى بحيرة تجميع الدم عقابا لها على تركها لطفلها وزوجها وكأنها اختارت الموت بنفسها؟! والمرأة التي ينسى اهلها -أو يتعمدون- عدم وضع نقطة حمراء لها في لوح الأسلاف عند موتها تهيم روحها كشبح جائع لا يتذكره أحد، وكذلك المرأة التي لا تقدم لها القرابين. المضحك في الأمر أن الأسلاف الذين يتحكمون في المصائر ...more
The first time I had contact with this book, was by listening to it on my way to work. As soon as it was done, I ran out and bought the book. I just *needed* to view the words that I had heard on the audiobook. As soon as I finished reading the last page, I turned to page 1 and started over again. This is the first and only time that I have ever done that. This is one of my all time favorite books, and I keep a copy beside my bed, so it is never far from my mind...
Grace Tjan
'My eyes were shaped like bamboo leaves; my brows were like gentle brushstrokes limned by a calligrapher'.

The notion that 17th century Chinese characters would speak like this for the benefit of 21st century English-speaking readers is preposterous to say the least. It is obvious that the author has conducted extensive research on the history and culture of late Ming/ early Qing dynasty Hangzhou, and the fruits of that research abound in this historical-supernatural novel. However, the anthropol
Feb 06, 2008 Marissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed reading Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. Peony in Love has a few of the same elements but is, nicely, a different novel. Peony is the only child of a wealthy couple who experienced some hard times during the Manchu raids. Peony, encouraged by her father, loves to read. She reads extensively but her favorite work is the Peony Pavilion--an opera. Her father stages the opera at her home and the women are allowed to watch through a screen. Peony meets a boy, falls in love, and begins ...more
Jun 13, 2012 Denise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Lisa See's writing is beautiful, and I understand this book is supposed to be about the women of China who wanted their voices to be heard. But what I found really fascinating about it was the descriptions of Chinese rituals and superstitions, and learning what the Chinese thought about death. The descriptions were so vivid to me that I felt like I could really see the pavilions, the plum tree, the Viewing Terrace.
There were so many sentences that made me reflect about life in general. "My hear
Sep 08, 2012 طَيْف rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

"إن الظلال والأحلام والانعكاسات في المرايا والبرك وحتى الذكريات واهية ومتلاشية...ولكن أتقل حقيقة عن الحقيقة؟!"

إنها الصين في القرن السابع عشر، حيث تعيش "زهرة الفاوانيا" الفتاة الصينية في بيئة ثرية، وبين جدران منزلٍ لا تستطيع تجاوزها لترى العالم خلفها...فالمرأة الصالحة يتم تهيئتها لتليق بزوجها وتقوم على خدمته وطاعته

زهرة الفاوانيا تقرأ "حديقة الفاوانيا" مرات ومرات وبأكثر من رواية...ويتعلق قلبها بتلك الفتاة وحكاية حبها ونهايتها...وفي عيد ميلادها السادس عشر، والذي ستقترن بعده بشهور بزوجها الذي اختارت
Dec 30, 2016 B J rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book by accident, knew nothing about it, never read the author before and the book was there for the taking so I took it. It takes place in 17th century China. and describes the life of a 15 year old girl named Peony, in a affluent family, educated, cloistered and in love with the opera, The Peony Pavilion which I hope I can also get a copy of to read. Some would consider it a love story , some a coming of age, others fantasy , and also a ghost story. To me it was historical fiction ...more
Adiba Jaigirdar
Aug 04, 2013 Adiba Jaigirdar rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Young Peony was brought up to be a good daughter and wife. At her sixteenth birthday, she knows that her future is set but when she chances a meeting with a handsome man at a theater performance, she begins to feel a longing and desire that sets the course for this novel.

Originally, when I read the blurb of this book, I thought it had an incredibly interesting concept and was rather excited to read a novel that was so rich in Chinese culture and tradition, since I would be rather ignorant in th
Jan 30, 2009 Jen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in a woman's role in Imperial China
Lisa See's research comes out in almost every passage of this historical novel of the first Manchu dynasty in China. Because my daughter is learning about China, I gravitated towards this novel in eagerness to learn more about the power, or lack of power, that women have had in China throughout the centuries. See follows the plot of a famous Chinese opera, The Peony Pavilion, by having her young maiden be so swept away with emotion and desire that she stops eating and loses her chance at earthly ...more
An interesting story, with a clever structure, weaving parallels between the legend of the Peony Pavilion with the "real" story of a girl called Peony, though that does make the first third very predictable.

I found the faux naive voice of Peony a little irritating at times; it is too didactic in the way it fills readers in on the historical detail of customs and beliefs, being more like a factual book than a novel. Whilst I found all that interesting, I think it could have been presented more su
Mar 28, 2008 bonnie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: GIRLS
Recommended to bonnie by: Marlene Sachs
I liked this book the same way I liked The Other Boleyn Girl. That is, I had trouble putting it down even at work. Indeed, they are the same kind of book - historical fiction taking a partially true story from a very very long time ago and spicing it up by adding elements of a romance novel. The historical fiction aspect makes it not trashy, but it is just as devourable as trash. It does not disappoint in this respect. And in depicting the afterworld according to Chinese mythology... MAN, it is ...more
I almost didn't finish this book, but I'm glad I did. It's uneven quality accounts for the rating. Considering the ending, which redeems so much which seemed sensational, tawdry and even dangerous and the fact that it is based on a true story, I was inclined to be generous. Still, I struggled between liking what See did by giving us a view of life after death, and not caring for the toxicity of too much romance. The main character was swept away by her own love affair. Although that wasn't the w ...more
Dec 10, 2008 Abigail rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 28, 2011 Debbie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

This story was about a lot of things. The overall theme being an attempt to celebrate the brilliance of women in a male dominated society. In ancient China (I think this takes place in the late 1500's/early 1600's), as in most other places in the world at this time control belongs to the men. Women are seen as much less. They are on various levels treated as pleasure makers, baby making machines and nurses to rear the boys into men who will carry on the family name and traditions and
Apr 08, 2009 Roossy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Peony In Love
By Lisa See
pages : 284

Do you believe in fate? I do. I believe I am fated to be with my husband. We came from two different countries and yet we were able to meet and be together. I also believe I am fated to live far away from my parents and siblings. It was hard to be away from my family but this condition taught me to be strong and independent.
Peony in love was also about fate. Fate of Peony. She was fated to die before her wedding, she was fated to roam around as a hungry ghost b
Aug 15, 2009 Angela2932 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When the novel begins, Peony is a 17th century 15 year old girl in China. She is watching an opera, The Peony Pavillion, and accidentally launches her fantasy of living the story of the opera through a brief meeting with a mysterious man in the garden. Under the strict rules and mores of the Qing dynasty of ancient China, this meeting is a violation of behavior. Peony's romantic notions run counter to her family's plan to have her marry.

*Spoiler Alert* If you've read other reviews of this novel,
Jan 03, 2009 Terrie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't think I will ever forget the details of this book. Written by Lisa See (SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN) I was expecting a lot. Reading the author's notes after finishing the book cinched the 5 star rating. Realizing the amount of truth and actual history was astonishing.
This strangely beautiful love story, set in 17th century China, could also be a ghost story, or a story of women's liberation. It had so many layers it is hard to categorize. Peony's story mirrors that of the Chinese oper
Jul 07, 2007 Mimo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: chinese historical fiction and opera lovers
Shelves: adult-fiction
4.75 Stars. This is a book that you really have to read a little while to get into. During the first part I thought that it was just going to be a story about a girl in an arranged marriage who was lovesick for a man that she met at an opera, and I would have given up on it had I not loved Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. But after the start of part two, the story really starts to unfold and get interesting. Peony is definitely different than Snow Flower but the themes of the inner world of women ...more
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Around the Year i...: Peony in Love, by Lisa See 3 38 Jan 04, 2016 10:05PM  
very good story 5 49 Aug 02, 2012 05:15AM  
Peony In Love 2 39 Jul 23, 2011 08:21PM  
The afterlife of China 5 54 Jun 23, 2011 11:49AM  
Peony... and what? 1 125 Mar 27, 2008 09:59AM  
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  • Empress
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  • Peach Blossom Pavilion
  • The Printmaker's Daughter
  • Beside a Burning Sea
  • The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel
  • The Concubine's Daughter
  • February Flowers
  • Bound Feet & Western Dress
  • The Moon Pearl
  • The Good Women of China: Hidden Voices
  • Imperial Woman
  • Death of a Red Heroine (Inspector Chen Cao #1)
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Lisa See is a Chinese-American author. Her books include Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (2005), Dragon Bones, and On Gold Mountain. She was named the 2001 National Woman of the Year, by the Organization of Chinese American Women. She lives in Los Angeles.

More about Lisa See...

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“He was in my hair, my eyes, my fingers, my heart. I day-dreamed about what he was doing, thinking, seeing, smelling, feeling. I could not eat for thoughts of him.” 139 likes
“In that moment I understood that the cruelest words in the universe are if only.” 116 likes
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