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Rachel-K
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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First Impressions

Please feel free to post while you read!

What strikes you at the outset of our novel? Do you catch Peony's excitment for the opera? What do you make of this first glimpse of a love story?
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vivico1
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: First Impressions

Well my first impressions are mixed. As I said in intros, this is not my usual type of read. I have read a couple of history books on China, one was a beautiful biography of a woman who survives the take over of the Mao Regime, incredible story. But I have not delved much into the ethereal side of their believe systems, so first off, in the first say 50 pages, I feel lost a lot. I feel like some things aren't explained enough for me to really grasp what they are talking about, some are. And I can not get a real feel for the Chen Villa, I dont understand the differently named pavilions, what one really looks like anyway and I miss being able to picture this place in my mind, that sounds nice, as Peony moves about. I like her excitement about the opera and being able to "see" something she normally wouldnt and her love of the story. I like the bits about the first meetings with the stranger and was actually surprised how easily it was for her to just slip away to it, considering her stature and betrothal, I was surprised she was allowed to go anywhere alone, with non familial males in the Villa, before her marriage. I feel I know where this is going with the stranger, I dont think that will be a surprise, but yeah I am having a hard time with all the ethereal aspects,the look of the place, the meaning of so many things so soon and I really dont want to research them all for this particular type of read LOL. Reading on tho. :smileywink:
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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LisaSee
Posts: 139
Registered: ‎08-24-2007
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Re: First Impressions



vivico1 wrote:
I feel I know where this is going with the stranger, I dont think that will be a surprise, but yeah I am having a hard time with all the ethereal aspects,the look of the place:smileywink:




I think you might be surprised about where things go with the stranger. Some of it will be expected; some things will be a total surprise. As for the ethereal qualities, I'm afraid you've only just begun with those.
KPL
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KPL
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Registered: ‎09-04-2007
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Re: First Impressions

Having read and loved "Snow Flower", there was no way I was going to pass up another chance to learn about the women of ancient China through Peony's words. I've finished it and found it fascinating. I love Lisa See's style, and particularly enjoyed the fact that she used first person here. I was/am interested in Peony's sixteen-year old personna: she almost seemed a contemporary of today's kids: vain, excited about her BIG birthday and ready to conquer the world as she enters adulthood.

My first impression? "I'm gonna love this!" My final impression? I did.
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mairwill
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: First Impressions

All--

I was able to get a good visual of the family villa with the pavilions. My husband and I went to Japan a few years ago and visited a Shinto shrine that even had a stage right across a little lake from where stands were in the side of a little hill to watch the annual performance that took place at this shrine. It had several pavilions and even though it was Japanese and Shinto, that place is what I thought about as I read about the villa.

Lisa, I kept wanting to say to Peony, "be careful, you're going to get in trouble" and boy, did she ever!

Later--

Mair
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bentley
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Registered: ‎01-31-2007
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Re: First Impressions



rkubie wrote:
Please feel free to post while you read!

What strikes you at the outset of our novel? Do you catch Peony's excitment for the opera? What do you make of this first glimpse of a love story?




What strikes me after reading the first two chapters is how much I can sense where Peony is coming from..almost like the silk worm in the cocoon. When does she break out of this cage..not if she will do it but when. The first chapter was slow for me but the second chapter had merged me like a thread into the fabric of this family's story and the plight of dear Peony. I do hope that she does not have regrets. Regrets can cause a lot of bitterness in someone's life; and I do hope she has some choices in her life (although already I feel the chill of the mother's words) and I expect to see swarming biting insects very soon.

I sense Peony's excitement about a lot of things not just the opera and I hope she is able to keep these new emotions in check. But part of me sees the headlights from the train coming closer in the tunnel. I have my fingers crossed.

I am not sure what kind of love Peony will find or thinks she is looking for. Does she even know?

My sense is that this is a novel which I would like to read slowly and savor...I love the prose and want to digest the different meanings that these words might have for me and my understanding of Peony's circumstances and choices. I don't believe for me that this will be a quick read. I don't think that I will wrap the book up quickly like I do with a mystery or thriller. This seems for me to be a very introspective and soul searching read. Sort of a journey into a different culture and time.
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Fozzie
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Re: Pavillions



vivico1 wrote:
And I can not get a real feel for the Chen Villa, I dont understand the differently named pavilions, what one really looks like anyway and I miss being able to picture this place in my mind, that sounds nice, as Peony moves about.



Maybe some of these pictures will help. Pavillions, halls, and I think walkways are mentioned as being in Peony's family complex.

http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/features/architecture/royal.htm

http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/features/architecture/residential.htm
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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Fozzie
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: First Impressions



rkubie wrote:
Please feel free to post while you read!

What strikes you at the outset of our novel? Do you catch Peony's excitement for the opera? What do you make of this first glimpse of a love story?



"The highest goal a woman could achieve in life was to be a chaste widow who would not accept a second marriage, not even if it meant taking her own life. But my grandmother had done something even more extraordinary. She elected to kill herself rather than give herself to the Manchu soldiers. She was such an exemplary example of Confucian chastity that, once the Manchus established the Qing court, they selected her to be venerated in stories and books for women to read, if they hoped to reach perfection themselves as wives and mothers, and to promote the universal ideals of loyalty and filial piety." (pg. 19)

This passage wraps all into one the feelings I have about Lisa's writing style. History, tradition, custom, and emotion are all carefully blended into a passage that furthers the plot and themes of the story. I am transported into the rhythm of Chinese life in Peony's time.

Although the pace of life at that time was slower than that of today, and I feel pulled into that time, I do feel urgency because tension is building about Peony's interest in the male stranger. Who is he? Will they meet again? In her excitement, will Peony let her secret slip to someone else?

I am also interested to learn more about the story and opera Peony Pavilion.

I can't wait to read more!
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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bentley
Posts: 2,509
Registered: ‎01-31-2007
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Re: Pavillions



Fozzie wrote:


vivico1 wrote:
And I can not get a real feel for the Chen Villa, I dont understand the differently named pavilions, what one really looks like anyway and I miss being able to picture this place in my mind, that sounds nice, as Peony moves about.



Maybe some of these pictures will help. Pavillions, halls, and I think walkways are mentioned as being in Peony's family complex.

http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/features/architecture/royal.htm

http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/features/architecture/residential.htm




Your post above of the Forbidden City bring back some wonderful memories of Beijing. Thank you for posting these Fozzie; they really do emphasize the architectural details described beautifully.
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margoolio
Posts: 7
Registered: ‎08-14-2007
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Re: First Impressions

My first impression of this book was it is a love story, which I was happy about. The book takes so many twists and turns around the love story, which makes it interesting. It feels like you get many different sides of the story and how everyone is involved. It is also interesting how The Peony Pavilion Opera is used as an underlining story.I haven't been able to put the book down and I am almost finished with it.
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purplepaigeturner
Posts: 16
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: First Impressions

From the first page I shared Peony's excitement. I can remember being that age and being so excited about one event like Peony is about the Opera. And I also remember like Peony that feeling that something's coming. Something good is just about to happen.And for Peony it was meeting that stranger. And I had to keep reading to share with her what happens next.
paige turner
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kiakar
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: First Impressions



purplepaigeturner wrote:
From the first page I shared Peony's excitement. I can remember being that age and being so excited about one event like Peony is about the Opera. And I also remember like Peony that feeling that something's coming. Something good is just about to happen.And for Peony it was meeting that stranger. And I had to keep reading to share with her what happens next.





Yes, when you first read about her excitement, it sounds like "now" time, doesn't it? LIke when normal teenagers go to the prom, have a first date with a dream come true kind of guy. But does it ever get complicated, and they say our young people have it hard. I can't imagine some of the pressures these young ladies had.
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purplepaigeturner
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: First Impressions

Yes, it hard for me to imagine how hard it was for young women in Peony's time. And how she meets "the Stranger" but he remains a stranger because of the strict rules of her society. How many women and men lost their true loves due to this over protection.
And how very sad this was for Peony.
paige turner
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cindersue
Posts: 323
Registered: ‎04-02-2007
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Re: Pavillions

Thanks for the links so we could see the pavilions. The buildings look like mansions. Adds to the magic and understanding of the story.
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