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vivico1
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DISCUSSIONS FOR PART ONE (THRU PAGE 95)Please use page spoiler warnings too

[ Edited ]
Lets get a few threads started here so we know where we are posting. This is for part one of the book, which is divided into 3 parts. Lets post here for only part one. Also, if you want to further narrow it down, you can put in your subject heading, the name of the chapter in Part 1 that you are at for spoilers but in general, anything up to page 95 can be discussed on this thread. I know that some may not be at page 80 for example yet either but want to discuss where they are so it would be a help to put page numbers in your subject message heading too but please no spoilers beyond page 95 here.

Message Edited by vivico1 on 09-05-2007 09:57 AM
Vivian
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Re: DISCUSSIONS FOR PART ONE (THRU PAGE 95)Please use page spoiler warnings too

Someone help me out here cause now I cant find the page exactly, but speaking of foot binding on another thread made me think of something I wanted to ask Lisa about the book. There is a part in this first section where Peony is talking about her feet and even her mother's I believe and she says hers were very pretty and small and very proud that they were only..something like 8 centimeters! That is what I was looking for, was it 8 centimeters??? Is that possible or a typo? From what I read online about this, 10 was the smallest and thats only 4 inches as it is. 8 centimeters is only like 3 inches! is that right?? Thats the length of my index finger and I am told I have long fingers!
Vivian
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Peony and Willow, pages 67-70

I found Willow's story interesting and sad. That she should be "thin horse" for life and hope to be a concubine as Peony hopes for a loving marriage, just shows that even tho the women really had no status in the society, or choice, that among them tho,some were more privileged than others and here is the first time Peony really even thinks about that. She has thought how spoiled Ze was but didn't realize how she was also in many ways. She tells Willow, you are mine, you belong to me! And yet, when Willow tells her, her story, she compares herself more with Willow than she does with Ze. I don't know that she is in love with the stranger really but I think she has romanticized her own desires as young girls can, to make them seem above everything else, including their own selfishness. Being so cloistered away in her own life has kept her from thinking about others' lives, except those in her books, because after all, the people around her that are not family, like Willow are just "fingers" in the villa.
Vivian
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Re: DISCUSSIONS FOR PART ONE (THRU PAGE 95)Please use page spoiler warnings too

The ideal sized bound foot was 7 centimeters or about three inches. The way to visualize the pretty bound foot is to look at your own thumb. It was about one inch wide and three inches long.



vivico1 wrote:
Someone help me out here cause now I cant find the page exactly, but speaking of foot binding on another thread made me think of something I wanted to ask Lisa about the book. There is a part in this first section where Peony is talking about her feet and even her mother's I believe and she says hers were very pretty and small and very proud that they were only..something like 8 centimeters! That is what I was looking for, was it 8 centimeters??? Is that possible or a typo? From what I read online about this, 10 was the smallest and thats only 4 inches as it is. 8 centimeters is only like 3 inches! is that right?? Thats the length of my index finger and I am told I have long fingers!


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Re: Peony and Willow, pages 67-70



vivico1 wrote:
I found Willow's story interesting and sad.... Being so cloistered away in her own life has kept her (Peony) from thinking about others' lives, except those in her books, because after all, the people around her that are not family, like Willow are just "fingers" in the villa.




One of the things I try to do as a storyteller is have a variety of characters who can point out differences just by being there. It would be one thing if you just saw Peony as a rich and cloistered girl. She wouldn't have any sense of how she fits into the greater scheme of things. But by having characters like Willow or Shao, the grumpy amah, I can not only show that women were having a variety of experiences in that time, but it also let's Peony think and experience her life differently too.
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Re: Peony and Willow, pages 67-70

I, too found that an important point in Peony's future Her life would have taken a different turn if she had the opportunity to observe others more openly and not be so self-absorbed.
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Re: Peony and Willow, pages 67-70



seagate wrote:
I, too found that an important point in Peony's future Her life would have taken a different turn if she had the opportunity to observe others more openly and not be so self-absorbed.




You are right Seagate, But aren't all teen agers especially girls self absorbed to the point of only thinking of theirselves only. And with no real freedoms, I am sure that made Peony anxious to feel or have excitement in her life. She was looking for that fulfillment that young girls looked for. Teenagers as a whole.
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Re: Peony and Willow, pages 67-70


kiakar wrote:




You are right Seagate, But aren't all teen agers especially girls self absorbed to the point of only thinking of theirselves only. And with no real freedoms, I am sure that made Peony anxious to feel or have excitement in her life. She was looking for that fulfillment that young girls looked for. Teenagers as a whole.


I dont know that all girls are so self absorbed. I think it has a lot to do with the way they are raised, including Peony, and whether they have a healthy self esteem or need validation from outside. I have met a few very together young women where I go to church for example, that dont seem so self absorbed and dont hang out with the crowds that drink or are into the Goth thing or body piercings or boob jobs. And they seem to be pretty cool young girls who still have their fun too. I was amazed recently when one that I have known since she was 6 and is now 17, well there was a movie out that I wanted to go see and I thought, I wonder if she still likes that kind of movie and would like to go? I called her mom, my friend and said, hey do you thing Kate would like to go to this movie with me? She said well, I dont know, her best friend just got back into town and shes staying over there tonight (not a lot to do out in this town and we have to go one town over for a movie, her summers are pretty quiet sometimes so I knew hey, I would want to be with my best friend too.) I said well I understand that for sure. I said I think I may go see it tomorrow (my friend, her mom works and couldnt go with me) I said but if you talk to her, tell her the offer is open and she can call me. Well she had called her mom that night before they went to bed and Jan told her about me calling and so i get this call and she says Vivian? Its Kate, I would really like to go see that movie with you. I said you sure? I thought you would be hanging with your friend tomorrow. She said I will be home tomorrow and so I would like to go hang with my other friend at a movie! :smileywink: Now thats a nice feeling frankly. Shes a great kid inside and out and so are the few friends of hers that I know, but I have the feeling, she is the good influence on them and not one to have other influence her in ways she doesnt believe are right. good kid.
Vivian
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Re: Peony and Willow, pages 67-70


seagate wrote:
I, too found that an important point in Peony's future Her life would have taken a different turn if she had the opportunity to observe others more openly and not be so self-absorbed.


Its true, and at this point in the book, all you know is she "thinks" she may be in love with the stranger and the people in her villa are just workers for her. I wonder because she hasn't up till now been allowed to leave and experience the world, would she have felt the same for about any young man who would have approached her and talked to her, any "stranger" of her age from outside the villa. And it is important yes, for her to experience things through others around her, having the variety of characters around her as Lisa says, for her to learn from and about. But as she does so, you do start to not just see her as this wonderful girl maybe headed for a romance, but also for me, this incidence, which allowed me as a reader to see how she had always thought of Willow, and thereby others around her, had me starting to not like her as much, also as i said, see her as a bit of a Ze herself. This feeling to me begins to build, but I think thats in the middle of the book and I am sure some wont see it that way at all, so i better at least leave that talk for later.
Vivian
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Re: Peony and Willow, pages 67-70



vivico1 wrote:

seagate wrote:
I, too found that an important point in Peony's future Her life would have taken a different turn if she had the opportunity to observe others more openly and not be so self-absorbed.


Its true, and at this point in the book, all you know is she "thinks" she may be in love with the stranger and the people in her villa are just workers for her. I wonder because she hasn't up till now been allowed to leave and experience the world, would she have felt the same for about any young man who would have approached her and talked to her, any "stranger" of her age from outside the villa. And it is important yes, for her to experience things through others around her, having the variety of characters around her as Lisa says, for her to learn from and about. But as she does so, you do start to not just see her as this wonderful girl maybe headed for a romance, but also for me, this incidence, which allowed me as a reader to see how she had always thought of Willow, and thereby others around her, had me starting to not like her as much, also as i said, see her as a bit of a Ze herself. This feeling to me begins to build, but I think thats in the middle of the book and I am sure some wont see it that way at all, so i better at least leave that talk for later.




Vivico,

You've written such interesting things today. I agree with everyone here. Peony is totally self-absorbed, just as so many girls are today. (Of course, there are exceptions, but teenaged girls, from the beginning of time, have been self-absorbed.) I think of Liniang in the opera and then Peony herself, staring at themselves and thinking how pretty they are but knowing that that prettiness is fleeting.

And there are so many ways that Peony is like Tan Ze, only Peony can't see that. But don't we all suffer from that kind of self-delusion at one time or another. You can say, I hate that quality in another person, knowing that there's a bit of that quality in you. I wonder sometimes if that why we hate those things so much. We're recognizing our own weaknesses.
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Re: Peony and Willow, pages 67-70

LisaSee wrote:

And there are so many ways that Peony is like Tan Ze, only Peony can't see that. But don't we all suffer from that kind of self-delusion at one time or another. You can say, I hate that quality in another person, knowing that there's a bit of that quality in you. I wonder sometimes if that why we hate those things so much. We're recognizing our own weaknesses.

____________________________________________________________________________________

I agree with you Lisa, for example, when we were all in high school, think of those who drank, smoked pot, did other drugs and would just drive you nuts to do it with them, if you were their friend, or goad you saying you were just chicken. Now (we may even have been the ones doing it) did we really think only a friend would do it too? Or was it ALWAYS because we knew it was wrong, we didnt want to admit it if we could get our friends to do it too, then we felt better. Isn't there in that a kind of self loathing and weakness in that, that we have to have others doing it too? Doesnt that happen as adults too? Does not the alcoholic try to get you to drink with them? And then there are those who straight out hate some people for only one of two reasons, they dont know enough about them, so they hate what they dont know, like for example, I get email all the time now from my friends, who now seem to hate all Muslims and it worries me and bothers me. It wasnt all Muslims that did what they did on 9-11, Mohammed did not teach this stuff, if you read about his teachings, many are very "Christlike", but people dont know them, so they hate them all. I am a Mormon, we are one of the largest Christian religions in the world now, yet a lot of people seem to hate Mormons or all they know to say, is arent you the ones who practice polygamy?? NOOOO, and when we did, it was 150 years ago, yet thats what always comes up, nothing about who we are today. The second reason tho, goes more to what you are saying I think, and that is those who hate in others what the see in themselves or dont want to admit in themselves. I have seen some of the biggest people (weightwise) calling other obese people the most horrid things! Where is their mirror? Or look to our politics today, we have two major players in politics against Homosexual rights, which is fine, everyone has their beliefs about that BUT, they came out against gays in big ways and now are caught in their own mire of being caught having homosexual activities. How many years back was it, that ohhhh, that TV Evangelist preached hell fire and damnation about adultery and then goes on tv and asks for forgiveness only after he was caught for having an adulterous affair for several years? Then, we see him back in just a couple of years, asking for forgiveness when he gets caught again?? Does the phrase "me thinks thou does protest too much" ring a bell? Or hypocrites? If we look deep inside, its probably true of all of us and if we could acknowledge in ourselves our own weaknesses, whether they were the same or even something different but none the less a weakness of our own, maybe we would be just a little kinder to those around us, having problems too. Maybe we just wouldnt hate so much if we realized we were all in this together and need each other.
Vivian
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Re: Peony and Willow, pages 67-70

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Re: Peony and Willow, pages 67-70



vivico1 wrote:
LisaSee wrote:

And there are so many ways that Peony is like Tan Ze, only Peony can't see that. But don't we all suffer from that kind of self-delusion at one time or another. You can say, I hate that quality in another person, knowing that there's a bit of that quality in you. I wonder sometimes if that why we hate those things so much. We're recognizing our own weaknesses.

____________________________________________________________________________________

have seen some of the biggest people (weightwise) calling other obese people the most horrid things! Where is their mirror? Or look to our politics today, we have two major players in politics against Homosexual rights, which is fine, everyone has their beliefs about that BUT, they came out against gays in big ways and now are caught in their own mire of being caught having homosexual activities. How many years back was it, that ohhhh, that TV Evangelist preached hell fire and damnation about adultery and then goes on tv and asks for forgiveness only after he was caught for having an adulterous affair for several years? Then, we see him back in just a couple of years, asking for forgiveness when he gets caught again?? Does the phrase "me thinks thou does protest too much" ring a bell? Or hypocrites? If we look deep inside, its probably true of all of us and if we could acknowledge in ourselves our own weaknesses, whether they were the same or even something different but none the less a weakness of our own, maybe we would be just a little kinder to those around us, having problems too. Maybe we just wouldnt hate so much if we realized we were all in this together and need each other.




Vivico, You've been on such a role the last couple of days with your comments. I've highlighted here a portion of your last post which I thought was dead on true. We hate in others what we hate in ourselves.
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Re: DISCUSSIONS FOR PART ONE (THRU PAGE 95)Roles of Men and Women - Pgs. 57 & 58

I found myself questioning the roles of men and women in the society in which Peony was living, and how those roles might have been changing.

I noted these two quotes made by Peony's mystery man when they met:

"If we were married, we'd be companions. We'd go on excursions --- on the lake, on the river, to see the tidal bore." (pg. 57)

"I want a marriage of companions --- one of shared lives and shared poems," he murmured. "If we were husband and wife, we would collect books, read, and drink tea together." (pg. 58)

While I believe that these sentiments expressed by Ren are indeed how he felt, I can't help but wonder what their lives would really be like if they did marry, given their social positions within society.

Lisa, could you comment on the history of the society and what was or was not changing to make Ren's ideas possible or impossible?
Laura

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Re: DISCUSSIONS FOR PART ONE (THRU PAGE 95)Roles of Men and Women - Pgs. 57 & 58


Fozzie wrote:
I found myself questioning the roles of men and women in the society in which Peony was living, and how those roles might have been changing.

I noted these two quotes made by Peony's mystery man when they met:

"If we were married, we'd be companions. We'd go on excursions --- on the lake, on the river, to see the tidal bore." (pg. 57)

"I want a marriage of companions --- one of shared lives and shared poems," he murmured. "If we were husband and wife, we would collect books, read, and drink tea together." (pg. 58)

While I believe that these sentiments expressed by Ren are indeed how he felt, I can't help but wonder what their lives would really be like if they did marry, given their social positions within society.

Lisa, could you comment on the history of the society and what was or was not changing to make Ren's ideas possible or impossible?


You know Fozzie, I think what Ren said he did believe it, and I felt that actually, of the two, Ren was the one really in love and that yes, he would do those thing with her. At this point in the book, I see Peony as being in love with the IDEA of love and so I think any man who would have said those things to her, she would have felt the same about. She has had no experience with men (no "dating"lol) or anything from the outside world to compare with and what I see in her in the first part of the book is a self absorbed teenager whose thoughts of others are dependant on what they would mean to her and she has read an opera that to her little budding romantic heart is that IDEAL love so she thinks she's in love with Ren. I think her feelings evolve in many ways throughout the book, but at this point in the book, when I thought about it, I thought, Ren is the one in love and will be, Peony is a teenage girl just caught in a world she really doesnt know but is finding quickly she would like to escape.

I think that since the war, the invasion at this time changed things for men and many men "retired" to the life of home and books and writing themselves, I think Ren could have done those very things with Peony, I dont think position would have kept them from it, well I think the better position he is in actually might make it easier to do just this. I dont think those leading a more "peasant" life shall we say, have the time or money for such things. Lisa would definately know better than I on that, so this is just what I am assuming, not trying to answer for her , or for you here :smileywink: Mostly, your post reminded me of what I thought about the two of them at this point and wanted to share that thought .
Vivian
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Re: Peony and Willow, pages 67-70



vivico1 wrote:

kiakar wrote:




You are right Seagate, But aren't all teen agers especially girls self absorbed to the point of only thinking of theirselves only. And with no real freedoms, I am sure that made Peony anxious to feel or have excitement in her life. She was looking for that fulfillment that young girls looked for. Teenagers as a whole.


I dont know that all girls are so self absorbed. I think it has a lot to do with the way they are raised, including Peony, and whether they have a healthy self esteem or need validation from outside. I have met a few very together young women where I go to church for example, that dont seem so self absorbed and dont hang out with the crowds that drink or are into the Goth thing or body piercings or boob jobs. And they seem to be pretty cool young girls who still have their fun too. I was amazed recently when one that I have known since she was 6 and is now 17, well there was a movie out that I wanted to go see and I thought, I wonder if she still likes that kind of movie and would like to go? I called her mom, my friend and said, hey do you thing Kate would like to go to this movie with me? She said well, I dont know, her best friend just got back into town and shes staying over there tonight (not a lot to do out in this town and we have to go one town over for a movie, her summers are pretty quiet sometimes so I knew hey, I would want to be with my best friend too.) I said well I understand that for sure. I said I think I may go see it tomorrow (my friend, her mom works and couldnt go with me) I said but if you talk to her, tell her the offer is open and she can call me. Well she had called her mom that night before they went to bed and Jan told her about me calling and so i get this call and she says Vivian? Its Kate, I would really like to go see that movie with you. I said you sure? I thought you would be hanging with your friend tomorrow. She said I will be home tomorrow and so I would like to go hang with my other friend at a movie! :smileywink: Now thats a nice feeling frankly. Shes a great kid inside and out and so are the few friends of hers that I know, but I have the feeling, she is the good influence on them and not one to have other influence her in ways she doesnt believe are right. good kid.





You are right, Vivico. There are a few and it is great that the church and activities do influence young teens alot. My kids were in church groups so much of the time. And it helped so very much. They have to feel they belong, and its good when good things are out there for them.
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Re: Peony and Willow, pages 67-70


kiakar wrote:

You are right, Vivico. There are a few and it is great that the church and activities do influence young teens alot. My kids were in church groups so much of the time. And it helped so very much. They have to feel they belong, and its good when good things are out there for them.


and I am sure you are a very good influence on them too :smileywink: how much a mother's love can elevate a child's sense of self-worth!
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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Re: Peony and Willow, pages 67-70

"a mother's love" That brings up an important qurstion in my mind. Peony's mother , I am sure, treated her as she did out of concern and love. It was the manner of parenting at that time. I wonder if that manner had a positive or negative influence in Peony's life.
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Re: Peony and Willow, pages 67-70



seagate wrote:
"a mother's love" That brings up an important qurstion in my mind. Peony's mother , I am sure, treated her as she did out of concern and love. It was the manner of parenting at that time. I wonder if that manner had a positive or negative influence in Peony's life.




Peony seemed more her father's daughter and pseudo son versus her mother's daughter. Baba and Peony seemed to be of the same mind; Peony though she was not a bad daughter experienced a quiet tension with her mother which created "mega-stress" for them both. I think that same kind of tension existed between Baba and Peony's mother and I wondered also about their relationship or lack of one.

A different mother might have had a different result with Peony. Peony and her mother were not on the same communication plane. They missed each other in terms of intent and understanding. When one was transmitting their inner thoughts and communication, the other was not receiving those transmissions. I was shocked how little Peony's mother knew and really understood what her daughter was all about.

I know this may sound harsh; but I think that her mother had a lot to do with Peony's anorexic bout and final outcome.
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Re: page 84 removing books

In this part of the book, when Peony is dying, really beyond help now, I thought about what a difference it might have made if her mother had visited her before now. I know her mother would have seen how she was looking and done something sooner. I dont understand either why those left to tend her didnt do something sooner or get her mother or father in there sooner. By the time the mother does come and gasp at what she sees and calls the doctor, it really is too late. She cant eat at this point. It made me think of WWII and what I read about a lot of the jewish prisoners who were liberated from the camps. It was incredibly sad the things they did to hold on and how hard they really did try and then something almost wrong in the heavens happen to them. So many were in this state of not being able to eat anymore, they would throw up what they tried, like Peony was doing. There is a point you get to, where your body cant handle just eating anymore and those people coming out of the camps were fed by troops so wanting to give them any and everything and gave them lots of food and it wound up killing many. We didnt understand then what we do now about the body and what happens and because they would eat and then keep throwing it all up, it emaciated them even faster, cause them to lose all hydration and they died from eating, after surviving so long starving. That is horrible irony! We know now that in this state, the body has to be given IVs and fluids before it can even attempt to digest food again.

They all waited too late with Peony, now the doctor is saying force her and its too late. Trying to anger her into it wont work now either and it just felt cruel when they started to burn her books thinking it would help. Their belief in "lovesickness" was only really a last ditch excuse for what is happening to these girls and why, so blame it on the books! Never blame it on their despair over there lot in life with no choices. Dont bring that up, cause you cant have girls or women thinking that, they may revolt against the lack of power in their lives, but this is what they are doing anyway and dying for it!
I wanted to scream at her mother, where were you when you maybe could have forced her to eat, even if it took taking her books then! Weeks earlier, Peony would have eaten to keep her books and her projects,now its too late and the burning of them is just cruel but is something to ease the minds of those around that it wasnt their actions or lack of, that let it get this far, it was those books that make girls lovesick! I was "heartsick" that they would do this now and I really think her mother loved her and was truly heartsick now too, but I really dont understand why no one did something that would have saved her earlier. Was it something in their culture that kept her mother out so long? or just at the time an angry mother who disciplined her daughter by shutting her up alone with just servants and really thought she was ok and eating?

I do like one thing Peony writes in the book at this point:
"When people are alive, they love. When people die, they keep loving. If love ends when a person dies, that is not real love." I believe that. pg 89
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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