Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Peony in Love

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Peony in Love

A Novel

by Lisa See

Peony in Love by Lisa See
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2007, 272 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2008, 320 pages

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Interesting Facts about Lisa See

  • Lisa See was born in Paris in 1955 but grew up in Los Angeles, spending much of her time in Chinatown.
  • Peony in Love is her fifth novel and seventh book. Her first book, On Gold Mountain: The One Hundred Year Odyssey of My Chinese-American Family traces 100 years of her family's adventures in America starting with her great-grandfather.
  • Her fourth novel, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (June 2005) is about "nu shu," the secret writing developed and used by women in a small county in China for over a thousand years. It received considerable critical acclaim and was on many bestseller lists.
  • In addition to writing books, Lisa was the Publishers Weekly West Coast Correspondent for thirteen years, has written many articles as a freelance journalist and wrote the libretto for the Los Angeles Opera based on On Gold Mountain, which premiered in June 2000 at the Japan American Theatre followed by the Irvine Barclay Theatre.
  • She also served as guest curator for an exhibit on the Chinese American experience for the Autry Museum of Western Heritage, which then traveled to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., in 2001.
  • She has designed a walking tour of Los Angeles Chinatown; written the companion guidebook for Angels Walk L.A. to celebrate the opening of the MTA's new Chinatown metro station; and curated the inaugural exhibition for the grand opening of the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles in the winter of 2003. She also serves as a Los Angeles City Commissioner on the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Monument Authority.
  • She was honored as National Woman of the Year by the Organization of Chinese American Women in 2001 and was also the recipient of the Chinese American Museum's History Makers Award in Fall 2003.
  • When asked how she manages to do so many things she explains that, like many writers, she is shy by nature but has worked for years to force herself to go out and do things. In her early twenties she challenged herself to do something 'outrageous' every week and, while not doing anything particularly daring, did push the borders of what she could do and how brave she could be.
  • She writes a thousand words every morning, just four pages, sometimes more, never less. The she gets dressed and starts to think about the rest of the day.
  • She's currently working on a novel tentatively called Shanghai Girls, which opens in 1937 with two sisters from Shanghai arriving in Los Angeles as the result of arranged marriages. The book is inspired by a story about her great-uncle who, in the 1930s, took his sons back to China and, much in the way another dad would say "Go find a souvenir" said, "As long as we're here, let's get you boys wives." - and so they did. Like many other girls, the wives left their servants behind in China to become effective servants in America. Lisa says, "They had very hard and often sad lives. Shanghai Girls is going to reveal a time and place that people know very little about, even though it happened right here in our country."
  • She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two sons.

This article is from the February 21, 2008 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.

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