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Lisa See presents and signs Peony in Love

Lisa See's haunting new novel, based on actual historical events, takes readers back to 17th century China, after the Manchus seize power and the Ming dynasty is crushed.

June 27, 2007 7:00pm to 8:00am

As Peony, the 15-year-old daughter of the wealthy Chen family, approaches an arranged marriage, she commits an unthinkable breach of etiquette when she accidentally comes upon a man who has entered the family garden. Unusually for a girl of her time, Peony has been educated and revels in studying "The Peony Pavilion", a real opera published in 1598, as the repercussions of the meeting unfold. The novels plot mirrors that of the opera, and eternal themes abound: an intelligent girl chafing against the restrictions of expected behavior; fictions educative powers; the rocky path of love between lovers and in families. It figures into the plot that generations of young Chinese women, known as the lovesick maidens, became obsessed with "The Peony Pavilion", and, in a "Werther"-like passion, many starved themselves to death. See ("Snow Flower and the Secret Fan", etc.) offers meticulous depiction of womens roles in Qing and Ming dynasty China (including horrifying foot-binding scenes) and vivid descriptions of daily Qing life, festivals and rituals. Peonys vibrant voice, perfectly pitched between the novels historical and passionate depths, carries her story beautifully in life and afterlife. (Random House)

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