This week’s book selection comes from Lisa See, the author of 2005’s popular Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. In Peony in Love, published in 2007, See returns the reader to China, this time in the seventeenth-century. Her heroine, the appropriately named Peony (and yes- she does fall in love) struggles against the ideals she has been brought up to emulate and her own curious and passionate nature. She finds a kindred spirit in a character in her favorite opera, Liniang, whose untimely death and miraculous resurrection are both due to love. Peony’s story begins to parallel her favorite heroine. Set in a time and culture where mysticism is fact and the line between the living and the dead is blurry, See takes the reader on the romantic, passionate, and tragic journey of Peony’s young life and death.
Here are some questions to get you started.
– How does Peony’s concept of love change as she sees more and learns more of the world? Does she love Ren the same way at the end of the book as in the beginning? What does this say about the development of love?
– How is Peony’s relationship with her parents influential to the plot? What actions do her parents take or not take that have consequences later in the story?
– Peony is described as a “hungry ghost.” In what ways is she hungering for something and what could it be? Do you think that she finds it?
– Lovesick Peony focuses all of her energy on “her poet.” Why do you think that she was so enamored of him? What about her did he value?