Reply
Author
LisaSee
Posts: 139
Registered: ‎08-24-2007
0 Kudos

How I Came to Write This Book

In 2000, I wrote a short piece for Vogue magazine about Lincoln Center’s full-length production of The Peony Pavilion. While doing research for that article, I came across the lovesick maidens, who used to read the opera, catch cases of lovesickness, and write poems and stories as they wasted away and died. They intrigued me, and long after I wrote the article I kept thinking about them. We usually hear that in the past there were no women writers, no women artists, no women historians, no women chefs, but of course women did these things! It’s just that too often what they did was lost, forgotten, or deliberately covered up. So when I had a moment here or there, I looked up whatever I could find about the lovesick maidens and came to learn that they were part of a much larger phenomenon.

In the mid-17th century, more women writers were being published in China’s Yangzi delta than in all the rest of the world at that time. By that I mean there were thousands of women—bound-footed, often living in seclusion, from wealthy families—who were being published. Some families published a single poem written by a mother or daughter whom they wanted to commemorate or honor, but there were other women—professional women writers—who not only wrote for large public audiences but also supported their families with their written words. How could so many women have done something so extraordinary and I didn’t know about it? Why didn’t we all know? Then I came across The Three Wives’ Commentary—the first book of its kind to have been published anywhere in the world to have been written by women—three wives, no less. With that, my interest turned into an obsession.

I went to China to do research. I read all I could about women in the 17th century and how they were able to break out of all the traditions and customs that had kept them locked inside for centuries to do the remarkable things they did. I thought a lot about what it means to be lovesick and the ways that the lovesick maidens relate to young women with eating disorders today. I hope you will remember that Chen Tong (Peony in the novel), Tan Ze, and Qian Yi—the three wives—were real women. I’ve tried to remain as true to their story as possible—so true that often I was constrained by facts that seemed too fabulous and coincidental to be real.

I hope that together we can rejoice in what they did under such extraordinary and often harsh circumstances.
Contributor
cherylktardif
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎04-21-2007
0 Kudos

Re: How I Came to Write This Book

Lisa, your new novel sounds absolutely fascinating. You hooked me with your earlier novels, then more recently with Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, and I am still recommending it to friends.

You always manage to draw me in with your well-researched historical plots, but more importantly your characters and their relationships.

As soon as I have 'recovered' from my month long virtual book tour I will pick up a copy of Peony in Love.

As always I wish you the best in success, and I thank you for your emails.

Cheryl Kaye Tardif
author of Whale Song
Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
bestselling author of Whale Song
http://www.cherylktardif.com
New User
Risingangel1961
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎09-02-2007
0 Kudos

Re: How I Came to Write This Book


cherylktardif wrote:
Lisa, your new novel sounds absolutely fascinating. You hooked me with your earlier novels, then more recently with Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, and I am still recommending it to friends.

You always manage to draw me in with your well-researched historical plots, but more importantly your characters and their relationships.

As soon as I have 'recovered' from my month long virtual book tour I will pick up a copy of Peony in Love.

As always I wish you the best in success, and I thank you for your emails.

Cheryl Kaye Tardif
author of Whale Song




cherylktardif wrote:
Lisa, your new novel sounds absolutely fascinating. You hooked me with your earlier novels, then more recently with Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, and I am still recommending it to friends.

You always manage to draw me in with your well-researched historical plots, but more importantly your characters and their relationships.

As soon as I have 'recovered' from my month long virtual book tour I will pick up a copy of Peony in Love.

As always I wish you the best in success, and I thank you for your emails.

Cheryl Kaye Tardif
author of Whale Song


Lisa,

I just wanted to say thank-you for writing such a wonderful story :smileyhappy: I became a Lisa See Fan after reading "Snow Flower And The Secret Fan". I absolutely loved that book and have purchased a HB copy for my bookshelf to be shared and read again. I just finished reading "Peony's In Love" and I can't recommend it enough to my fellow Shelf-mates on Shelfari, and all of my book loving friends :smileyhappy:

I have recently found another one of your books "Dragon Bones", and I'm looking forward to reading it. I wait in anticipation for your next book, and wish you much more success with your writing endeavors.


Hilda Soares
Author
LisaSee
Posts: 139
Registered: ‎08-24-2007
0 Kudos

Re: How I Came to Write This Book

Thank you for your kind words. I'm really looking forward to our discussion.
Frequent Contributor
mairwill
Posts: 84
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: How I Came to Write This Book

Lisa and All--

Another book I thought about as I read Lisa's new book is The Lovely Bones. I found similarities between the 2 afterlife's these 2 characters lived.

Later--

Mair
Author
LisaSee
Posts: 139
Registered: ‎08-24-2007
0 Kudos

Re: How I Came to Write This Book

I also loved The Lovely Bones. Did you know that there's a movie being made of it?
Frequent Contributor
seagate
Posts: 44
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: How I Came to Write This Book

Lisa- Would it enhance the book discussion of Peony In Love in our personal book groups to either read or view the opera, The Peony Pavilion along with your novel and discuss the similarities? Is this a possibility ? That could make another wonderful telephone chat !
Author
LisaSee
Posts: 139
Registered: ‎08-24-2007
0 Kudos

Re: How I Came to Write This Book



seagate wrote:
Lisa- Would it enhance the book discussion of Peony In Love in our personal book groups to either read or view the opera, The Peony Pavilion along with your novel and discuss the similarities? Is this a possibility ? That could make another wonderful telephone chat !




I think I wrote somewhere that the opera is interesting but kind of hard to read. There are also a couple of DVDs of the opera. I'd suggest watching a bit of it over reading it, because that will give you a sense of the whole production. But truly, I hope that Peony in Love can stand on its own merits.
Scribe
vivico1
Posts: 3,456
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: How I Came to Write This Book


LisaSee wrote:


seagate wrote:
Lisa- Would it enhance the book discussion of Peony In Love in our personal book groups to either read or view the opera, The Peony Pavilion along with your novel and discuss the similarities? Is this a possibility ? That could make another wonderful telephone chat !




I think I wrote somewhere that the opera is interesting but kind of hard to read. There are also a couple of DVDs of the opera. I'd suggest watching a bit of it over reading it, because that will give you a sense of the whole production. But truly, I hope that Peony in Love can stand on its own merits.


Yeah, I really dont think I want to get into the actual Opera myself on this. I think what it says or represents is covered well in the book as far as that goes. I have seen only two Chinese Operas Lisa and as you said before, for me anyway, I dont think I could handle just the music on CD, my ear is not attuned to that kind of singing. I don't like reading operas other than the notes you can read about whats going on while you are watching a scene when you cant understand the language. I would think personally, that anyone interested in the opera would do best to see it on DVD to really 'get" it. But if you think about it, isnt that true of any opera? You can have the music and it can be most enjoyable to listen to, but opera to me is as visual as it is musical and definitely with what I saw of the Chinese ones. I think it could be interesting to see it, but for me, I will say Lisa, your book does stand alone without it because you present what is needed about it for the storyline.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
Frequent Contributor
seagate
Posts: 44
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: How I Came to Write This Book

Indeed it does stand on its own. I have already jotted down discussion questions to keep our group interested and talking for a long while.I just found it intriguing how you could web the two together.
Frequent Contributor
cindersue
Posts: 323
Registered: ‎04-02-2007
0 Kudos

Re: How I Came to Write This Book

... I went to China to do research. I read all I could about women in the 17th century and how they were able to break out of all the traditions and customs that had kept them locked inside for ...

I have just finished reading the first part of the book and now know what you mean about the love sickness maidens. I can only imagine how horrible it was for the women to live during those times. And the binding of feet! OMG how horrible. I wonder if love/abuse somehow comes from these times. Reading the part where Peony's mother says to bind the feet shows that you love your child. All that pain! yuk! So many children today who have been abused by their parent still think they love them, because they beat them.

Thank you for researching and sharing their experiences thru your writings.
Users Online
Currently online:43 members 460 guests
Please welcome our newest community members: