Author: Lisa See
Narrator: Janet Song
Title: Peony in Love
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, Fantasy
Published: June 26th 2007
Where I got It: Audible
In seventeenth-century China, three women become emotionally involved with The Peony Pavilion, a famed opera rumored to cause lovesickness and even death, including Peony, the cloistered daughter of a wealthy scholar, who succumbs to its spell only to return after her death as a "hungry ghost" to haunt her former fiancé, who has married another
I've been wanting to read this book for a long, long time. Sighs...I was scared to actually dive in because it seems people LOVE it or HATE it. Finally got myself to check it out. I decided to do the audio version since I like the narrator.
We are in seventeenth-century China and three women like so many others become emotionally involved with the opera called The Peony Pavilion. This opera is rumored to cause lovesickness and even death. This happens to Peony who is the cloistered daughter of a wealthy scholar. She succumbs to the opera spell and after her death, she returns as a hungry ghost to haunt her former fiance.
HEAD'S up...there are some spoilers here because I just could not help myself. I tried to control myself so I avoided BIG spoilers just little ones so move forward with caution. ;)
Okay...I will admit I struggled tremendously at first. I had issues with Peony, her parents, and the world overall. They want these girls to be pure and be sheltered to the point of madness sometimes. They call it lovesickness....but these girls want love and freedom. They want it so bad that they cannot see past it and just decide that they are done with life. They can't control anything but what they put in their mouths...so they starve. Poor things.
Now...my issue was how selfish Peony was. Yes, yes, I get that she can't help but be in love with the first non-family dude she sees because of how sheltered she was. BUT girl legit knew him for 3 days. He thinks he loves her too but they do nothing. "Well - we are engaged to others soooo byeee.", and in protest of marrying another man, she goes all emo. Writes sad poems and starves to death??? SIGHS. Maybe WAIT and see who it is that you are engaged to. You never know!!! And lo and behold it was your dream guy. Tragic so tragic. How dare you do that your beloved father and mother. You are their only child. How could you be so selfish and dramatic about a guy you knew for not even 3 days. You talked for just a few hours overall. GAH.
Of course, everyone blames the opera that she got to watch. "YEP, just another girl who becomes cursed." OKAY...........MAYBE, JUST MAYBE IT IS THAT SHE HATES HER LIFE! Maybe she wants to know who she is marrying. Maybe she wants to go to town or just be treated like a human and not a goat being sold. Crazy thought...maybe talk to her........see what's going on. Maybe tell her who the to-be-hubby is. I know, I know it was the world and it was that bad for these girls so it was realistic. It just drove me insane.
After she died things got really, really interesting. I couldn't stop listening. I had to know what was going to happen next. It was an interesting view of what the afterlife is like. It was so sad in so many ways.
I loved when Peony realized as a ghost she has certain abilities. So cool. Wrong on how she used it at first, but we all would do the same thing. I know I would for sure. It was nice seeing her use her abilities for good near the end.
Watching Peony grow and mature as a ghost was the best part of the story. I honestly wept when she and another ghost (don't want to give away BIG spoilers) did what they did at the end to bring happiness to people who deserved it. It brought a tear to my eye.
This was a really emotional book. I think we are supposed to have strong feelings throughout this which I did. I hated Peony and the human world. I was sad when she died and had to say goodbye. I felt scared for her as she was trying to find her way as a ghost. I wept when her parents seemed to have neglected her and didn't finish the funeral rites they needed to. I felt her anger and pain seeing her love remarry. I felt her desires and wants to be loved and remembered. I felt her despair and her joy. I felt all the emotions. When this ended I couldn't help but smile and wipe a tear away.
I honestly think the narrator really helped with this. I do not think I would've liked it as much if I had to read it. The narrator is amazing. She really brings so much life to the characters and story. Fantastic! She did great.
Okay...okay...I'll stop while I'm ahead. I can honestly ramble about this because there is soooo much to discuss. Perfect for a book club I think.
I'll give this 4 stars. It would be 5, but I did struggle at first.
- #35 for Audiobook challenge
- #35 for Audiobook challenge