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Wordsmith
Fozzie
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Re: Author's Note and Acknowledgements - SPOILER

SPOILER

I always read not only the author's notes, but the acknowledgements as well.

I was thrilled to read that The Three Wive's Commentary really existed! How cool! Reading that was like the cherry on the sundae of your book, Lisa. Your writing makes me feel part of another time and place in China, but then to read that such a book really existed somehow made the book even more real. I hope I am making myself clear with that comments.

Also, I was struck by how many people were involved in this book. What a journey it was for you and them!
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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vivico1
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Re: DISCUSSIONS FOR PART III (Page 198 to end) Page 267


Fozzie wrote:
I had to laugh at myself. In the discussion of Part Two of the book, I commented that Peony killed Tan Ze. I believed what my narrator told me completely, without reservation. Big mistake! LOL!

On page 267, Tan Ze spoke to Peony and revealed:

"You didn't kill me. You didn't crush me. You didn't steal my breath. I stopped eating, and for once I had total control over my destiny. I wanted to starve the thing you put in my belly."

Lisa, one thing I really enjoyed about the book was how things were interpreted, and then found to be misinterpreted later in the book. Isn't that just how real life is?


This is true. And your right about what Ze said. But you know, I still feel its a bit of both, that Peony did have a hand in her death and thats what she was seeking redemption for, what she did to another woman. Ze did starve herself to death but to me, out of both things, the feeling of powerlessness of these women who did stop eating, to have some control about their lives but also because Peony pushed her always, for mostly her own motives and Ze was sick of that too. She knew it was Peony, she told her so, even in that one line there: "I wanted to starve the thing you put in my belly." We see again what we have talked about before, what women can do to other women that really comes from a dark place, not out of the love Peony "thought" she was doing it all for. She was still just after time with Ren and getting him to see her and look what she did to Ze to achieve that.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
Wordsmith
Fozzie
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Re: DISCUSSIONS FOR PART III (Page 198 to end)



seagate wrote:
Sorry I can't post pages as I lent my book to a friend and I am relying om memory.This thought scans many pages---, which was most important to Peony's arranging the love affair after death, Ren's happiness or fullfillment of her own?



I assume you mean having Yi marry Ren. I think she was truly thinking of both Ren and Yi, not herself at that point.

If you mean the marriage of Tan Ze and Ren, then I would say that she was acting more out of her own interests. Although that is tricky because we learn in Part Three that Tan Ze was really controlling herself, not being controlled by Peony as Peony had led us readers to believe.
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
Wordsmith
Fozzie
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Re: DISCUSSIONS FOR PART III (Page 198 to end) Redemption



LisaSee wrote:
I'd like to throw out some questions for part three so we can begin thinking about them. Here's the first:

We see a difference in Peony’s actions after Ze marries Ren and again after Ze dies. Do you see redemption here for Peony?



Yes, I do see redemption for Peony in her actions to bring Ren and Yi together. I feel a word like redemption or atonement was used in the book, but I didn't make note of it.
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
Wordsmith
Fozzie
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Re: DISCUSSIONS FOR PART III (Page 198 to end) Please use page spoiler warnings too



LisaSee wrote:
How does what happened during the Cataclysm change depending on who’s telling the story?



On page 184, we hear an opinion of one of the husbands at a gathering at Shen's house:

"No woman --- let alone two wives --- would want to exhibit her private thoughts in such a public way. Women have the inner chambers for that. Liberalism, women venturing out, men encouraging women to write and paint for profit, all these things led to the Cataclysm. We can be grateful that some women are returning to old traditions."

This is in great contrast to what we hear from Peony's mother on pages 212-8. It was because of the Cataclysm, the horrors she experienced, and her preparations to die that caused Peony's mother to write a poem on the wall that made her the "most famous poet of all." Women writing did not cause the Cataclysm, but rather, the Cataclysm caused women to write.
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
Wordsmith
Fozzie
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Re: DISCUSSIONS FOR PART III (Page 198 to end) Please use page spoiler warnings too



LisaSee wrote:
Peony in Love is very much a tale of secrets and the power secrets can exercise over others. Who wields the power of secrets in this story? Who succumbs to that power? Which characters experience the greatest shifts in powerful moments and abject powerlessness?



As I mentioned, I really enjoyed tale of secrets.

I think Tan Ze, Peony's grandmother, and, ultimately, Peony's mother wield the power of secrets.

Poor Peony seems to be the one most often succumbing to the power. She is the one who experiences wide swings in feelings of powerfulness and powerlessness.
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
Wordsmith
Fozzie
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Re: DISCUSSIONS FOR PART III (Page 198 to end)



LisaSee wrote:
Early in this discussion, Peony's mother took a real beating as being a bad mother. By now you know Peony's mother's story and how she really felt about her daughter. In what ways is mother love explored? How does it change from a mother’s or daughter’s perspective? What does Peony learn about mother love and in what ways does she experience it herself? What aspects of mother love still hold true for mothers and daughters today?



I think the quote I posted under favorite passages sums up this question well.

"Now, when I look at you, I know that as much as a mother tries there's no way to protect a daughter." (pg. 219)

Peony's mother tried to show Peony love by protecting her from the outside world. That failed. Peony did not think that her mother cared for her and did not understand her motivations. It was only by intervening in Yi's life that Peony was able to feel like a mother and begin to understand the need to protect a child. Then Peony could being to understand what her mother was feeling and accept her mother's past actions as those of love.
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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LisaSee
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Re: DISCUSSIONS FOR PART III (Page 198 to end) Please use page spoiler warnings too



vivico1 wrote:

LisaSee wrote:



Sometimes I think it's comlicated because we wish such big and wonderful things for our daughters. We want them to have everything that we had or and/or everything we didn't have. But just because we want that doesn't mean that that's what our daughters want. They need to grow up and find thir own paths. As a daughter myself, I know I did. Not suprisingly -- and I bet a lot of you will have had the same experience -- the older I've become, the more I've understood my mother and what she wanted for me. I've also come to want those things too. But back in the teen years --- look out!


There is the irony for me, here I am 50 and my mother and I are still so far apart in our desires and beliefs that even at this age, we have no common ground. BUT, when we look around us, we find other women, older, wiser than us. who we can have this bond with if we are lucky. If not we at least appreciate now, the commonality of desires, for ourselves and others.




We can find mothers and supportive women in all kinds of places. Sometimes it's better when we aren't related by blood but only friendship.
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LisaSee
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Re: DISCUSSIONS FOR PART III (Page 198 to end) Page 267



Fozzie wrote:
I had to laugh at myself. In the discussion of Part Two of the book, I commented that Peony killed Tan Ze. I believed what my narrator told me completely, without reservation. Big mistake! LOL!

On page 267, Tan Ze spoke to Peony and revealed:

"You didn't kill me. You didn't crush me. You didn't steal my breath. I stopped eating, and for once I had total control over my destiny. I wanted to starve the thing you put in my belly."

Lisa, one thing I really enjoyed about the book was how things were interpreted, and then found to be misinterpreted later in the book. Isn't that just how real life is?




You may recall that early in our conversations, I kept saying wait and see what happens and things may not be quite what they seem. I was really bting my tongue when people got mad at Peony's mother or mad at Peony for killing Tan Ze. I hope these elements of the story paid off, because I do think that in life things are rarely what they seem and that we all interpret things differently.
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LisaSee
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Re: Author's Note and Acknowledgements - SPOILER



Fozzie wrote:
SPOILER

I always read not only the author's notes, but the acknowledgements as well.

I was thrilled to read that The Three Wive's Commentary really existed! How cool! Reading that was like the cherry on the sundae of your book, Lisa. Your writing makes me feel part of another time and place in China, but then to read that such a book really existed somehow made the book even more real. I hope I am making myself clear with that comments.

Also, I was struck by how many people were involved in this book. What a journey it was for you and them!




It's a funny thing, but I say that The Three Wives' Commentary existed at the very beginning of the book. My editor kept telling me that no one would read that or retain it. He was right.
Author
LisaSee
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Re: DISCUSSIONS FOR PART III (Page 198 to end) Please use page spoiler warnings too



Fozzie wrote:


LisaSee wrote:
How does what happened during the Cataclysm change depending on who’s telling the story?



On page 184, we hear an opinion of one of the husbands at a gathering at Shen's house:

"No woman --- let alone two wives --- would want to exhibit her private thoughts in such a public way. Women have the inner chambers for that. Liberalism, women venturing out, men encouraging women to write and paint for profit, all these things led to the Cataclysm. We can be grateful that some women are returning to old traditions."

This is in great contrast to what we hear from Peony's mother on pages 212-8. It was because of the Cataclysm, the horrors she experienced, and her preparations to die that caused Peony's mother to write a poem on the wall that made her the "most famous poet of all." Women writing did not cause the Cataclysm, but rather, the Cataclysm caused women to write.




But also, don't you think the story -- perhaps the idea -- of the Cataclysm changed depending on whether it was Peony, her mother, her father, or her grandmother telling the story? I've seen this in my own family -- not for anything as terrible as the Cataclysm -- when we all experince the exact same thing but then we all have a different interpretation of what happened with different emotions to go along with those interpretations.
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vivico1
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Re: Author's Note and Acknowledgements - SPOILER


LisaSee wrote:


Fozzie wrote:
SPOILER

I always read not only the author's notes, but the acknowledgements as well.

I was thrilled to read that The Three Wive's Commentary really existed! How cool! Reading that was like the cherry on the sundae of your book, Lisa. Your writing makes me feel part of another time and place in China, but then to read that such a book really existed somehow made the book even more real. I hope I am making myself clear with that comments.

Also, I was struck by how many people were involved in this book. What a journey it was for you and them!




It's a funny thing, but I say that The Three Wives' Commentary existed at the very beginning of the book. My editor kept telling me that no one would read that or retain it. He was right.


You know it is a truism tho that people at large will not read a prologue but will read an epilogue and everything that comes after it. The only thing I can figure is that people want to jump right into the story and so they skip all the stuff in the front but then when the story is over and they want more, they will read anything in the back. Maybe thats it, dunno, but it is true, a shame but true.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
Wordsmith
Fozzie
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Re: Author's Note and Acknowledgements - SPOILER



LisaSee wrote:


It's a funny thing, but I say that The Three Wives' Commentary existed at the very beginning of the book. My editor kept telling me that no one would read that or retain it. He was right.



I find that there is so much to absorb in a book, particularly a detailed historical fiction book like yours, that I can't remember everything. I spend time going back over things, like re-reading the epigram at the beginning, middle, and end of the book. Sorry not to have retained that tidbit, but, like I said, I liked being surprised at the end. :-)
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
Wordsmith
Fozzie
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Re: DISCUSSIONS FOR PART III (Page 198 to end) Please use page spoiler warnings too



LisaSee wrote:


But also, don't you think the story -- perhaps the idea -- of the Cataclysm changed depending on whether it was Peony, her mother, her father, or her grandmother telling the story? I've seen this in my own family -- not for anything as terrible as the Cataclysm -- when we all experience the exact same thing but then we all have a different interpretation of what happened with different emotions to go along with those interpretations.



Oh, definitely! My family members and I talk about stories that happened years ago too. It is rare that we all remember the same thing, that is if we all even remember the event at all!

Also, we see this phenomenon in this reading discussion group with all the various opinions and reactions to the same book.
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
Wordsmith
kiakar
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Re: DISCUSSIONS FOR PART III (Page 198 to end) Page 267



vivico1 wrote:

Fozzie wrote:
I had to laugh at myself. In the discussion of Part Two of the book, I commented that Peony killed Tan Ze. I believed what my narrator told me completely, without reservation. Big mistake! LOL!

On page 267, Tan Ze spoke to Peony and revealed:

"You didn't kill me. You didn't crush me. You didn't steal my breath. I stopped eating, and for once I had total control over my destiny. I wanted to starve the thing you put in my belly."

Lisa, one thing I really enjoyed about the book was how things were interpreted, and then found to be misinterpreted later in the book. Isn't that just how real life is?


This is true. And your right about what Ze said. But you know, I still feel its a bit of both, that Peony did have a hand in her death and thats what she was seeking redemption for, what she did to another woman. Ze did starve herself to death but to me, out of both things, the feeling of powerlessness of these women who did stop eating, to have some control about their lives but also because Peony pushed her always, for mostly her own motives and Ze was sick of that too. She knew it was Peony, she told her so, even in that one line there: "I wanted to starve the thing you put in my belly." We see again what we have talked about before, what women can do to other women that really comes from a dark place, not out of the love Peony "thought" she was doing it all for. She was still just after time with Ren and getting him to see her and look what she did to Ze to achieve that.




COULD BE A SPOILER:

Yes, Viv, I feel Peony was responsible for Tan Ze's death. SHe interfered, didn't she?
She, in other words, got the ball rolling toward disaster. By taking over Tan Ze's life and making choices for her and Ren, she was responsible for the down side. Even though Tan Ze didn't want the baby and starved, who put the baby there? But then good came of it. She then helped the second wife have a sucessful marriage. So that is a good thing that happened from the first time.
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LisaSee
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Re: Author's Note and Acknowledgements - SPOILER



Fozzie wrote:


LisaSee wrote:


It's a funny thing, but I say that The Three Wives' Commentary existed at the very beginning of the book. My editor kept telling me that no one would read that or retain it. He was right.



I find that there is so much to absorb in a book, particularly a detailed historical fiction book like yours, that I can't remember everything. I spend time going back over things, like re-reading the epigram at the beginning, middle, and end of the book. Sorry not to have retained that tidbit, but, like I said, I liked being surprised at the end. :-)





Oh goodness. Don't be sorry. Believe me when I say NO ONE retained that. My editor said no one would and he was right. It was a real lesson to me as a writer.

A lot of people have said they would have liked the book to start with the author's note, but I completely disagree with that. I'm with Vivico on this one. People want to get into the story. Writers spend so much time on the opening line -- I happen to really like the opening line for Peony in Love -- that you wouldn't want it to come five or six pages in to the book.
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seagate
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Re: Author's Note and Acknowledgements - SPOILER

I find that time makes a difference in the manner in which we read a novel. If time is a factor such as finishing a book for discussion, much is skipped . Just today I was talking with a friend about the wonderful descriptive passages in Charles Frazier's books. I have just finished "thirteen moons". The reply -" Oh i can't stop to read the description ,I don't have the time." At times like this I find it best to have two books going , one to enjoy leisurely and the other just to span quickly. Peony In Love is one where it is a pleasure to absorb every word.
Peony knew the value of books when speking of Tan Ze, ---I filled her belly with books.I made her read volumes of poetry and history." I bet she never skipped a passage of The Peony Pavilion .
Wordsmith
Fozzie
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Re: Author's Note and Acknowledgements


LisaSee wrote:


A lot of people have said they would have liked the book to start with the author's note, but I completely disagree with that. I'm with Vivico on this one. People want to get into the story.



No way! I agree that notes should be at the end. I made the mistake once of reading an introduction to one of the B&N classics. It was full of spoilers. Never again have I done that.

I read a lot of historical fiction, and since my knowledge of history is very lacking, I don't know what really happened, so I am able to enjoy the story and let it carry me through the events. Of course, when I am done, I always want to know what parts were real and what was fictionalized!
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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LisaSee
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Re: Author's Note and Acknowledgements - SPOILER



seagate wrote:
I find that time makes a difference in the manner in which we read a novel. If time is a factor such as finishing a book for discussion, much is skipped . Just today I was talking with a friend about the wonderful descriptive passages in Charles Frazier's books. I have just finished "thirteen moons". The reply -" Oh i can't stop to read the description ,I don't have the time." At times like this I find it best to have two books going , one to enjoy leisurely and the other just to span quickly. Peony In Love is one where it is a pleasure to absorb every word.
Peony knew the value of books when speking of Tan Ze, ---I filled her belly with books.I made her read volumes of poetry and history." I bet she never skipped a passage of The Peony Pavilion .




I'm the exact same way. I love to savor books, unless they're bad. Then I skip huge sections! Actually, here's how I read a book -- every book -- the first chapter, the last chapter, the second chapter, the penultimate chapter. I can't enjoy a book unless I know how it's going to end. Isn't that terrible?
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vivico1
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Re: Author's Note and Acknowledgements - SPOILER


LisaSee wrote:




I'm the exact same way. I love to savor books, unless they're bad. Then I skip huge sections! Actually, here's how I read a book -- every book -- the first chapter, the last chapter, the second chapter, the penultimate chapter. I can't enjoy a book unless I know how it's going to end. Isn't that terrible?


LISA!!! shame on you! lol, reading the last chapter after the first??? :smileywink: but seriously, doesnt that spoil it for you? Or are you a "I want it and I want it now" kind of person lol, just kidding. I so worry about someone telling me the end of a book that I worry about these clubs, when they dont have good threads, of people posting spoilers. I think everyone is doing great that way in this club tho. Actually, in a way, I have enjoyed this more without a mod than with one, tho, thats due mostly to your patience with us and posting for us too and for everyone in here who posted their own threads or questions.

Remind me not to read a "who done it" with you, if you're reading the last chapters before the buildup lol. Lisa, so many things are so much better with an initial interest, a little preview of things to come, some BUILDING of excitement and wonder...and then, um well, the climax! :smileyhappy: Arent BOOKS wonderful things!
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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