Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Success is Sweet

I am happy to report that the book club meeting this month was a huge success. Multiple reasons enter my mind. Reason number one: WE READ! So many women read, whether it was our chosen book (These Is My Words) or the other book (Condie), there was reading going on and that makes me so happy! Reason number two: Janice Hastings. Enough said, no elaboration needed....okay, I'll elaborate: Holy cow! Food, sweets, displays, quizzes with prizes, parting gifts that went with the book...the list goes on. Thank you, thank you, thank you for making it wonderful, Janice. Reason number three: Engaging conversation about everything from Sarah to segregation, pioneers to pecan trees! It is wonderful to be around women with voices. We have chosen book two, as most of you know. It is "Peony in Love" by Lisa See. Here is a synopsis for you:

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, the lyrics from The Peony Pavilion mirror her own longings. In the garden of the Chen Family Villa, amidst the scents of ginger, green tea, and jasmine, a small theatrical troupe is performing choice scenes from this epic opera, a live spectacle few girls, even women, have ever seen. Like the heroine in the drama, Peony too is cloistered and from 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 the production: “Unmarried girls should not be seen in public.” But Peony's father prevails, assuring his wife that proprieties will be maintained. Women will watch the opera from behind a screen to hide them from view. Yet through its cracks, Peony catches sight of an elegant, handsome man with hair as black as a cave -- and is immediately overcome with too many emotions.

So begins Peony's unforgettable journey of love and destiny, desire and sorrow -- as Lisa See's haunting new novel takes readers back to 17th century China, after the Manchus seize power and the Ming dynasty is crushed. Steeped in traditions and ritual, this story brings to life another time and place -- even the intricate realm of the afterworld, with its protocols, pathways, and stages of existence . . . a vividly imagined place where one’s soul is divided into three, ancestors are worshiped, misdeeds are punished, and hungry ghosts wander the earth.

Based on a true story, Peony in Love uses the richness and magic of the Chinese afterlife to transcend death and explore the many manifestations of love. Ultimately, it’s about universal themes: the bonds of female friendship, the power of words, the desire all women have to be heard, and finally those emotions that are so strong that they transcend time, place, and perhaps even death.

If you want to know more about the author Lisa See, visit her website here. Our next meeting will be at Karalea Richards home on Tuesday, March 25th at 7 pm. See you there! FYI: If you want to read ahead, our April read is "Water For Elephants" by Sara Gruen.