On Reading Lisa See’s “Peony in Love” (Repost from Previous Blog)

Hello to all of my lovely people,

October is coming to an end and while people around the world may be preparing for Halloween, here in Pakistan I prepare to combat the cold weather that I, being the woman from the warm Punjab plains that I am, absolutely love to hate. I sit here in my home  in the foothills of the lesser Himalaya’s with the wind howling outside my mountain-side home as I read the last few pages of Lisa See’s Peony in Love.

I will admit when I first picked up this book from a bookstore in Islamabad I did not expect much from it. In fact, the only reason I picked it up was because I came across Lisa See in the Amazon bookstore while looking for another title and I felt I needed to read one of her books at least. I am indeed pleasantly surprised. When I bought the novel I expected a cheesy romance, something along the lines of pulp fiction. Definitely nothing substantial. And the first few pages I read seemed to confirm my suspicions. I felt that for a book based in 16th century China, the writing was suspiciously American. However, the more I read the more I found myself invested in the story. The ancient society that Lisa See evokes is beautifully done. I admit I cannot vouch for the historical accuracy of the novel. I am not an expert, neither am I ethnically Chinese, to be able to comment on the historical and social accuracy of the society depicted. However, what the writer creates, she creates it well.

Ms. See’s narrative of Chen Tong, Tan Ze and Qian Yi’s lives makes for a wonderfully good read on a cold windy evening. Though the characters are based on and share names with real women, Lisa See spins their lives into a beautiful romance that may perhaps be more potent than that of Romeo and Juliet. Chen Tong’s love for her husband even in death,Tan Ze’s jealously and Qian Yi’s unassuming loveliness, Chen Tong’s mother’s suffering all make for a beautiful, and at times, melancholy read.

The novel is, in the end, a beautiful tale of personal growth, the story of the development of a woman’s spirit across decades of love, hardship and triumph. And above all, it is the story of every woman’s desire to be heard in a world that valorizes the achievements of men over women.

I sincerely hope that if any one you, my lovely readers, are inspired to read this book, you enjoy it as much as I have.

Much Love,

The Woman Out Of Time 

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