BookBrowse Reviews Peony in Love by Lisa See

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Peony in Love

A Novel

by Lisa See

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

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A story steeped in the traditions and rituals of 17th century China that addresses the universal themes of friendship, the power of words, and the age-old desire of women to be heard

Following the runaway success of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, which was set in a remote corner of nineteenth-century China where tradition and foot-bound women developed their own secret code for communication known as nu shu (woman's writing), Lisa See returns to tell a story set two centuries earlier in which, for a short period, wealthy women in the Yangtze delta area, often living in seclusion, published their writings.

The mid-17th century was a turbulent time for China; the Ming dynasty that had controlled China for almost 300 years (not the China we know today but the South-East corner of the continent) collapsed as the Manchus (from the North-East) invaded, raping and pillaging as they went (eventually establishing the Qing Dynasty which ruled until its collapse in 1912). During the ...

The Story of Peony In Love: Tang Xianzu's "The Peony Pavilion" has caused controversy from when it was first performed in 1598 up until the current day. Almost immediately, different groups advocated that it be censored, and many scenes were cut. In 1780, the opera was blacklisted as profane, and in 1868 it was officially banned and all copies were ordered to be burned. In 2000, the Lincoln Center put on a full-length production that was temporarily delayed when the Chinese government discovered the content of the restored scenes and barred the actors, costumes and sets from leaving the country. The reason for the controversy? "The Peony Pavilion" was the first piece of fiction in the history of China in which the heroine chose her own destiny. Women of the time became entranced with the concept, ...

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