“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.
“A complex period tapestry inscribed with the age-old tragedy of love and death.”The New York Times Book Review

“Electrifying . . . a fascinating and often surprising story of women helping women, women hurting women and women misunderstanding each other.”The Miami Herald

“See mines an intriguing vein of Chinese history . . . weaving fact and fiction into a dense romantic tapestry of time and place as she meditates on the meaning of love, the necessity of self-expression and the influence of art.”Los Angeles Times

“A transporting read, to lost worlds earthly and otherwise.”Chicago Tribune

“A quietly beautiful tale that sneaks into the reader’s heart . . . Not since Susie Salmon of Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones has a ghostly narrator been as believable and empathetic.”San Antonio Express-News

“There’s much here to be savored and a great deal to be learned.”The Washington Post Book World