You'll love this one...!! A book club & more discussion

Group Themed Reads: Discussions > Peony in Love - what did you think?

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message 1: by Jenny, Group Creator - Honorary Moderator (new)

Jenny (notestothemoon) | 846 comments Like last month, once you have read the book can you give me a mini review here.

What I want from you guys is:

A star rating out of 5 (exactly the same as Goodreads).


A brief description of what you thought about the book. Good story? Interesting? Insightful? Would you read some more of the author's work? Did you learn anything from reading it. etc.

At the end of the month I will post our average rating as a group and try to sum up what we all thought.

message 2: by Jenny, Group Creator - Honorary Moderator (new)

Jenny (notestothemoon) | 846 comments I know a few of you have read this so can you give me an ickle review? Thanks :)

message 3: by Cecily (new)

Cecily | 576 comments I gave it 3 stars: ***
and wrote this:

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 subtly (or else with footnotes).

For much of the book I was concerned that the message was that reading is a dangerous activity for women, though that is finally overturned – sort of.

There were incongruous bits that sounded too modern and that a good editor should have picked up on as they were needlessly distracting: some of the descriptions of the empowering of women; lovesickness often sounded too much like a modern analysis of anorexia - explicitly when Ze says "I stopped eating, and for once I had total control over my destiny", and the ghastly line stolen from a budget sci fi movie "We asked the netherworld bureaucrats and received one time return-to-earth permits".

I also found the "clouds and rain" threesome/intimacy by proxy, a rather disquieting concept, though I realise it was meant to be a beautiful coming together, and it rather tainted the rest of the story for me.

So overall, interesting, but for me, a frustrating and disappointing read, albeit quite educational. It only gets as many as 3 stars because I like reading things that evoke China.

message 4: by Elise (new)

Elise Ravenclaw (eliseravenclaw) I give it 3 stars.
It was ok, I definitely liked Snow Flower and the Secret Fan A Novel better and wasn't too fond of the ghostly part of the story, it went on for far too long.
The first part was very good, more "believable" if you will.
I do like how this author interweaves historical facts into a fictional story, I didn't find the facts to be overwhelming.

message 5: by Terri (new)

Terri (terrisa-uk) I gave it 3 stars.

I enjoyed the first part, before Peony died. The 'ghost' part I found a little weird, especially the "cloud and rain" parts!
I agree with CFSR above regarding the lovesickness = anorexia
The book as a whole was quite informative - ancient China is not something I know an awful lot about, although I did read Wild Swans many years ago I seem to have forgotten it. The foot binding descriptions made me wince. I found the factual elements wove into the story quite well and didn't feel like I was being lectured. Overall I enjoyed it, and I will probably Snow Flower and the Secret Fan at some point!

message 6: by Jaime (new)

Jaime | 240 comments I also gave it three stars

I did not really enjoy the plot too much (far too predictable) but I did find the historical aspect very interesting. Like Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, which I liked much better, the descriptions of foot binding had me cringing. However, it was interesting to think about it from the perspective of revolting against a new order. I never would have thought of something like foot binding, which seems so limiting, as a form of dissent. I will probably read more by this author someday.

message 7: by Allison (new)

Allison (theallisonnelson) | 27 comments I gave it 5 stars.

At first, I agree with some of you on here that it was tough to get into - having to learn about the traditions while the story itself was pretty slow-moving, was a little hard to get through.

After the first part was over, I really loved the book - I had learned a lot and I wanted to see what was going to happen to Peony, Ren, and everyone involved. I found it very interesting and actually believable to a certain point, the idea of ghosts and how they influence the living's everyday lives.

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