“I finally understand what the poets have written. In spring, moved to passion; in autumn, only regret.”
For young Peony, betrothed to a suitor she has never met, these lyrics from The Peony Pavilion mirror her own longings. In the garden of the Chen Family Villa, a small theatrical troupe is performing scenes from this epic opera, a live spectacle few females have ever seen. Like the heroine in the drama, Peony is the cloistered daughter of a wealthy family, trapped like a good-luck cricket in a bamboo-and-lacquer cage. Though raised to be obedient, Peony has dreams of her own.
Peony’s mother is against her daughter’s attending the production. But Peony’s father assures his wife that proprieties will be maintained, and that the women will watch the opera from behind a screen. Yet even hidden from view, Peony catches sight of an elegant, handsome man–and is immediately overcome with emotion.
So begins Peony’s unforgettable journey of love and destiny, desire and sorrow, as Lisa See’s haunting new novel, based on actual historical events, takes listeners back to seventeenth-century China. Steeped in traditions and ritual, PEONY IN LOVE explores, beautifully, the many manifestations of love, and ultimately, addresses universal themes: the bonds of friendship, the power of words, and the age-old desire of women to be heard.
Lisa See is the New York Times bestselling author of China Dolls, Dreams of Joy, Shanghai Girls, Peony in Love, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Flower Net (an Edgar Award nominee), The Interior, and Dragon Bones, as well as the critically acclaimed memoir On Gold Mountain. The Organization of Chinese American Women named her the 2001 National Woman of the Year. She lives in Los Angeles.
Janet Song has performed with numerous theater companies throughout the United States. Her recent shows include Twelfth Night, Nora, and Medea. She is the recipient of a Drama-Logue Award for her performance in Morticians in Love at the Celebration Theatre in Los Angeles.