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Rachel-K
Posts: 1,495
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Rituals of Death

Were you fascinated by the extensive and organized rituals around a death that we witness here? I was horrified at her being "taken outdoors!"

What do you make of the parallels between death and marriage?

What do you make of the ways her family couldn't complete the tasks required? Is there any way that you can read this as keeping an attachment to her?

Why did Peony not know about some traditions (as in, those ways families neglect their duties in the deaths of children, especially daughters).

Whom do you blame for her families' failures?
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Wrighty
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Rituals of Death

I was shocked she was taken outdoors also! I thought I read it wrong. I understand there are many long honored traditions involved but I thought the foot binding was bad! It seems so incredibly cruel to make a dying family member suffer even more although I know that isn't the intention here.
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margoolio
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Registered: ‎08-14-2007
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Re: Rituals of Death

I did think it was strange that the family left Peony outside in order to die. It makes no sense to me that the family is more worried about death inside the house then spending the last moments of their daughters life with her. The issue about a daughter not even considered important enough to die within the family compound is a strange thought to me. I blame the mother for the families failures. If Peony was able to see who she was marrying or be introduced I think things would have ended up differently. I also think if she had opened her eyes during the opera and seen what her father was trying to show her that would have ended differently. The mother was so worried with tradition that she could have told Peony the reasons for her being the way she was for Peony to understand.
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vivico1
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Re: Rituals of Death/ WOMEN AT FAULT

nargoolio wrote:
I blame the mother for the families failures.

Wow, strong statement. I am sure that all the men of that era, who also want to blame a book on the girls dying, not the system they imposed on the women, would love to hear that and find it a most fitting statement for a woman to make of another. I can't decide if that statement comes from this era, with women having different rights, looking back at ONE women in a culture where the women had no rights and judging her by this or what. So far, I have heard in here, so many women willing to blame Peony's mother alone for her death and now for the families failures, while not even knowing what has happened in her life AND all the women's life at that time that formed what their roles would be. For all we know, Peony's mother may have been "the best of the lot", but also are we not allowing her to have some tortures of her own, that form who she is?
What specifically has Peony's mother done that makes her, her daughter's killer and her families failure, that is any different than anyone around Peony right now, including a FATHER and aunts and other "love ones". What could she have done differently, not by our standards but by hers? Do you know that by the standards of the day, and from what Peony is learning growing up, not just from her mother, the other women echo these things too, Peony will be very much the same kind of mother as her own, as others? Does anyone think that given the culture of the time, maybe her mother seemed so stern because she knew what could happen to Peony if she stepped out of the norm? We need people to break barriers but do not many a frightened mother, try to hold back their child sometimes because they know the heartache it will bring? I applaud mothers who stand behind a child's reach beyond the average in any way they can, but I also don't blame them when they don't know what to do but try to protect their children by keeping them in the norm. Maybe they stepped out once and were hurt deeply and they fear for their girls.
I just find it remarkable that so many women here are so willing to lay all the misfortune at the mother's feet. I will say tho, I am sure you would all be most welcome at one of the pavilions for tea with the other hens who gossip and point fingers at other women or their girls and say, ahhh, there lies the fault!
You know, the men don't need to be cruel to the women of this time, or any other actually, we do a great job of it ourselves. Men may tell us what to do, but we do not stand as women together to say no. Women will side with the men, after all, they are the prize arent they?
We talked about girls dying of anorexia because they believe the media's ideal of what is pretty. We say as women, who is helping these girls, why are people, mothers, turning a blind eye to it all, its the media fault and peer pressure, or even just the mother's fault. Why is that so? Is it only the mother who has the duty of raising the children and molding their beliefs? It may be the norm, but is it right? If you blame only the mother, you join in the beliefs of "the norm" and "sit with the men". We tell girls and other women, they are fat, we tell girls that men only want this type of body and to get a man requires this or that, WE, all women, do this and we base it on the fact that thats what men tell us or like to look at in magazines? Look at what the other women in Peony's day tell her about being thin for her hubby or what the say to Ze, or how they blame Ze's mother and snicker at them. Look how we are doing it now. We dont place this demand on boys or men. They can be bald and fat and toothless, but heyyyyy we are "just women" and darn lucky to have them! How many anorexic boys do you know?? If you want to get out of the hen house and must blame a woman, blame us ALL. EVERY woman in Peony's day and EVERY woman today, because together we have the power to stop every single ad that shows skinny as beautiful, but we have to be together in it. It is because women will turn on other women, blame other women, jostle for the best position for a man, that women were and are treated the way we are. I am not some feminist looking for some Amazonian uprising. I am a woman, whose worst critics have always been women. I love all women and when we turn on our own sisters,and find comfort in groups by doing so, that scares me, for each generation. We have the ability to change how we are viewed, but not when we are the women "on the other side" doing that kind of viewing. The women writers of Peony's time who became famous and worked to find each other to share ideas with, they may not have been welcomed in some circles but were not their works revered even by men? I honestly believe that if we were having this conversation back then, many here would be in one of the pavilions, happily blaming Peony's mother for the misfortunes that they PRAY will not befall them and believing they are doing better and when I stood to say differently, I would be dismissed by the women as, the old, unmarried one with no children who speaks crazy so pay her no mind, she has no right or weight with us.

Just to make sure my little soapbox stand does not have someone running after a moderator or an editor to have me thrown out of the bookclubs for "attacking another reader", understand, that while this one line above was just the icing of the cake to me about this idea, it is the combination of several such statements that makes me speak out about THE IDEA, no one individual here, but the idea this represents, that in a discussion such as this, I have to say something about it, since one side is presented and I need to say what I feel too.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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kiakar
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Rituals of Death



margoolio wrote:
I did think it was strange that the family left Peony outside in order to die. It makes no sense to me that the family is more worried about death inside the house then spending the last moments of their daughters life with her. The issue about a daughter not even considered important enough to die within the family compound is a strange thought to me. I blame the mother for the families failures. If Peony was able to see who she was marrying or be introduced I think things would have ended up differently. I also think if she had opened her eyes during the opera and seen what her father was trying to show her that would have ended differently. The mother was so worried with tradition that she could have told Peony the reasons for her being the way she was for Peony to understand.




In China, in this era, all families did these customs. This wasn't just Peony's family or her mother by no means. It was tradition that they perform customs like binding feet, putting their love ones outside to die as not to let evil spirits inside their home. This was not thought up by Peony's mother.
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vivico1
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Re: Rituals of Death


kiakar wrote:


margoolio wrote:
I did think it was strange that the family left Peony outside in order to die. It makes no sense to me that the family is more worried about death inside the house then spending the last moments of their daughters life with her. The issue about a daughter not even considered important enough to die within the family compound is a strange thought to me. I blame the mother for the families failures. If Peony was able to see who she was marrying or be introduced I think things would have ended up differently. I also think if she had opened her eyes during the opera and seen what her father was trying to show her that would have ended differently. The mother was so worried with tradition that she could have told Peony the reasons for her being the way she was for Peony to understand.




In China, in this era, all families did these customs. This wasn't just Peony's family or her mother by no means. It was tradition that they perform customs like binding feet, putting their love ones outside to die as not to let evil spirits inside their home. This was not thought up by Peony's mother.


You are right Kiakar, this wasnt thought up by Peony's mother. Heres the thing tho, this may all be the culture of the time, and tho we may not mean to demean someone's culture or beliefs, what did you feel when you read those things? How did you feel about foot bindings and just a thought, do you think women or men came up with this idea? After all, look at ours, men invented the bra, the corsette (sp),high heels etc. What gets me tho, is how we as women will make value judgment on other women who dont conform to what our "society" has deemed acceptable for women. Who is making up these rules and why will we women step on each other to conform before we will say, hey wait a minute, NO WAY! Sometimes we have to look back at earlier times to realize what goes on in our own. Did you not feel, hey NO WAY! about some of these things? and if you did, did you feel it was just Peony's mothers fault? From what you say here, I don't think you feel it was JUST her fault but I am very interested in what reading about this culture made everyone feel?
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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kiakar
Posts: 3,435
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Rituals of Death



vivico1 wrote:

kiakar wrote:


margoolio wrote:
I did think it was strange that the family left Peony outside in order to die. It makes no sense to me that the family is more worried about death inside the house then spending the last moments of their daughters life with her. The issue about a daughter not even considered important enough to die within the family compound is a strange thought to me. I blame the mother for the families failures. If Peony was able to see who she was marrying or be introduced I think things would have ended up differently. I also think if she had opened her eyes during the opera and seen what her father was trying to show her that would have ended differently. The mother was so worried with tradition that she could have told Peony the reasons for her being the way she was for Peony to understand.




In China, in this era, all families did these customs. This wasn't just Peony's family or her mother by no means. It was tradition that they perform customs like binding feet, putting their love ones outside to die as not to let evil spirits inside their home. This was not thought up by Peony's mother.


You are right Kiakar, this wasnt thought up by Peony's mother. Heres the thing tho, this may all be the culture of the time, and tho we may not mean to demean someone's culture or beliefs, what did you feel when you read those things? How did you feel about foot bindings and just a thought, do you think women or men came up with this idea? After all, look at ours, men invented the bra, the corsette (sp),high heels etc. What gets me tho, is how we as women will make value judgment on other women who dont conform to what our "society" has deemed acceptable for women. Who is making up these rules and why will we women step on each other to conform before we will say, hey wait a minute, NO WAY! Sometimes we have to look back at earlier times to realize what goes on in our own. Did you not feel, hey NO WAY! about some of these things? and if you did, did you feel it was just Peony's mothers fault? From what you say here, I don't think you feel it was JUST her fault but I am very interested in what reading about this culture made everyone feel?





It felt just as you said, I wanted to shout at the people or men or whoever who thought all this stuff up for other people (women to endure in their life) And I know we as a people are no better for it than China because we have let Men get by with so much as ruling over us with their own personal beliefs. We blame each other and have always blamed each other but the women are not the ones responsible. From time beginning we have had no say so in anything. Men have made the rules. Did a man say, I like little feet and then made it a rule that only little footed women should marry weathier men?? I have attended lots of health seminars for working as a medication nurse for years and one of them opened my eyes to something that goes on in our country that is so unfair and still it goes on. A speaker, a man doctor got up and said that he attended studies on women's bodies where they would chopp off the breasts
of women and sat them aside and start dissecting other parts. One of the guys in the study asked why not study the breasts, and the drs or scientists said, all men of course, we have no use in studying them. That is, they only wanted to study the parts of the body that was like men. For years, women were not included in studies like of cancer or heart attacks at all. Yes, who invented the breast exam machine??? Men!!!
How soon was protrate cancer , the cure found fo rit? Sooner than any other cancer?
We are still coming in second or third. This is the whole factor, we want to look at other women and say, you shouldn't do this, I wouldnt do this, I couldnt do this, but we are doing things every day because we are less than man.
I was very uncomfortable reading this book. This is not the way I look at the hereafter and it upset me that it too was opposed to women being treated fairly. I loved the last book, Lisa wrote. It was so much about love even though it did have alot of the customs that I do not approve of or like. But hey, like I said, women did not invent them. If this world is still around in another century maybe it might reflect alittle more equal to men and women. But who knows. The world probably want last that long.
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vivico1
Posts: 3,456
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Re: Rituals of Death


vivico1 wrote:

You are right Kiakar, this wasnt thought up by Peony's mother. Heres the thing tho, this may all be the culture of the time, and tho we may not mean to demean someone's culture or beliefs, what did you feel when you read those things? How did you feel about foot bindings and just a thought, do you think women or men came up with this idea? After all, look at ours, men invented the bra, the corsette (sp),high heels etc. What gets me tho, is how we as women will make value judgment on other women who dont conform to what our "society" has deemed acceptable for women. Who is making up these rules and why will we women step on each other to conform before we will say, hey wait a minute, NO WAY! Sometimes we have to look back at earlier times to realize what goes on in our own. Did you not feel, hey NO WAY! about some of these things? and if you did, did you feel it was just Peony's mothers fault? From what you say here, I don't think you feel it was JUST her fault but I am very interested in what reading about this culture made everyone feel?





kiakar wrote:
It felt just as you said, I wanted to shout at the people or men or whoever who thought all this stuff up for other people (women to endure in their life) And I know we as a people are no better for it than China because we have let Men get by with so much as ruling over us with their own personal beliefs. We blame each other and have always blamed each other but the women are not the ones responsible. From time beginning we have had no say so in anything. Men have made the rules. Did a man say, I like little feet and then made it a rule that only little footed women should marry weathier men?? I have attended lots of health seminars for working as a medication nurse for years and one of them opened my eyes to something that goes on in our country that is so unfair and still it goes on. A speaker, a man doctor got up and said that he attended studies on women's bodies where they would chopp off the breasts
of women and sat them aside and start dissecting other parts. One of the guys in the study asked why not study the breasts, and the drs or scientists said, all men of course, we have no use in studying them. That is, they only wanted to study the parts of the body that was like men. For years, women were not included in studies like of cancer or heart attacks at all. Yes, who invented the breast exam machine??? Men!!!
How soon was protrate cancer , the cure found fo rit? Sooner than any other cancer?
We are still coming in second or third. This is the whole factor, we want to look at other women and say, you shouldn't do this, I wouldnt do this, I couldnt do this, but we are doing things every day because we are less than man.
I was very uncomfortable reading this book. This is not the way I look at the hereafter and it upset me that it too was opposed to women being treated fairly. I loved the last book, Lisa wrote. It was so much about love even though it did have alot of the customs that I do not approve of or like. But hey, like I said, women did not invent them. If this world is still around in another century maybe it might reflect alittle more equal to men and women. But who knows. The world probably want last that long.


Kiakar,
I understand your frustrations very much. The more we talk about Part II, you will see that. I honestly dont want to put down anyones religious or personal beliefs but how, as a woman, can I not get riled at some of the things written here? Not the writing of it, but what it tells me about this culture then, and hopefully not quite so today. But like I said in a very early thread,my religion gets all kinds of hits too.

The thing is, if we were reading a book about, oh say some nice traditional married woman who bore lots of sons and was revered and didnt know all this stuff we are reading here. We might find what her destiny was, her funeral was, her afterlife was, all quite romantic and charming. We may not know the darker side of this to women, the "thin horses" or the "lovesick" unmarried women such as Peony.

I would personally hope this book would upset you. I would hope you would find it all very depressing as a woman, cause quite frankly to me it is. I know we have then ending yet to talk about, but the ending can not erase what is happening now that is real, or believed to be in the afterlife.

I will tell you how utterly disturbed I have been with part II on that thread as we go but yes, this is a very uncomfortable read so far. Thats ok too. Like I said, reading about the holocaust is too but I do. I also read a book called THE RAPE OF NANKING written by a woman I do believe and its nothing I ever heard in any history class, why? Has anyone read this book? Talk about a holocaust! But we dont hear about them.

You do make some of the same points I do, who decides these things, mostly men and yeah women's issues are going to be put on the back burner,(you bring up some very interesting points along these lines). But even if we say ok, most societies are governed by the ideas of men, why is that so? You say, hopefully it will change. That part has not changed since Peony's time and before and we know what it will take to change it, women taking control of their lives and not leaving it to men to decide and just accepting it and being mad. We have one of the best and effective ways of doing it too but if we cant get it together as women, take care of each other as women, stop the jealousies women have of other women, how will we affect it?

Here is the thing, one of the most intriguing things I have read so far, is the idea that the women ancestors can control if children will be born and if the family has SONS! This is power! Sons are everything and here is finally one way for woman to have power, be it for good or bad. The problem is, once the blessing is bestowed, it doesnt mean changes will be effected to help women who are alive but still this remains an immense power. Now think about us today, what power do we wield that could effect change worldwide? And I dont mean birth control lol. Its the very fact that we are still for the most part the keepers of the home and thereby the ECONOMIC leaders in the family. Not what money comes in always but what money goes out! We are the buyers! We do the shopping and can decide what will be bought in the long run if we as a group of the most powerful consumers understood that and worked together. NO magazines would show pictures of anorexic stars and their exploits and little girls in tiny clothes as models in catalogues, if WE didnt buy them! WE bring these things into the homes where are girls are, we let them buy these things, its not the men, even if they have decided what will be on these covers. Men dont buy the STAR, The Enquirer, the TEEN magazines, the catalogues. The ads on tv for this dress or that diet, are not aimed at men nor bought by them. WE give them this power. The irony too is, the magazines men buy to look at nude women and drool,DONT have these skinny women with no boobs in them! They like the curves! WE as women have allowed society to decide for us , then get upset with the results. In this life, we, the women consumers of the world, could change the views about women in a heartbeat but we dont. It takes more than just an occassional outburst about something, it takes commitment. We keep seeing Paris and Brittany because the media know we will buy it! We do have power but we too often use it against each other.
This is what bothers me about some of the posts in here Kiakar, how quickly the women have been willing to blame Peony's mother for so much and not think about what all goes into her decisions or theirs in blaming her. We said once early on, maybe we blame in others what we hate in ourselves. Maybe we need to think about that.

As far as the book or the beliefs written of in the book, I know neither of us mean to demean anyones religious beliefs as I said earlier, but YEAH, what is happening to Peony just flat sucks! lol and even if she winds up happy in then end, this part still will suck! And I think we can say that knowing that in our own lives, some things we must endure just flat suck too, even if we are happy in the end, if someone said, well how about that middle part you went through, that chemo or something, we are still going to say THAT PART SUCKED! LOL. So please do not be afraid to say what you are feeling as you read, thank you for letting me know someone is feeling something beyond just dissecting whose fault was this or that.There has got to be more feelings in here than that and I think they would come out if the author wasnt here but I think Lisa would understand and find that much more interesting to know what we were feeling when we read her book than just guarded statements.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
KPL
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KPL
Posts: 11
Registered: ‎09-04-2007
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Re: Rituals of Death/ WOMEN AT FAULT

Wow! I agree with you on lots of points, as I do with some stated by Kiakar. I feel that we're looking at a culture that's far different from ours, and traditions that were honored 400 years ago; certainly that doesn't happen now...(the 'that' being taking the unwed daughter outside to die). These people were doing what they believed in, probably without thought to whether or not it was right or wrong. It's unbelievable, isn't it, to think of such an act, particularly since we're all nurturers, and given to do the best we can when faced with an illness or looming death of a loved one...

My heart just broke as I watched Peony watching the preparations for her death: confusing them with the rituals of her wedding which would take place in just five days, and then, upon realization of the awful truth, the crumbling of her will and soul...and the peony in her fist.

On another note: I'm wondering if the removal of her door and using it to carry her outside to die was a symbolic act, too. Like maybe, had there been evil spirits in her room, they'd not be enclosed.
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kiakar
Posts: 3,435
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Rituals of Death



vivico1 wrote:

vivico1 wrote:

You are right Kiakar, this wasnt thought up by Peony's mother. Heres the thing tho, this may all be the culture of the time, and tho we may not mean to demean someone's culture or beliefs, what did you feel when you read those things? How did you feel about foot bindings and just a thought, do you think women or men came up with this idea? After all, look at ours, men invented the bra, the corsette (sp),high heels etc. What gets me tho, is how we as women will make value judgment on other women who dont conform to what our "society" has deemed acceptable for women. Who is making up these rules and why will we women step on each other to conform before we will say, hey wait a minute, NO WAY! Sometimes we have to look back at earlier times to realize what goes on in our own. Did you not feel, hey NO WAY! about some of these things? and if you did, did you feel it was just Peony's mothers fault? From what you say here, I don't think you feel it was JUST her fault but I am very interested in what reading about this culture made everyone feel?





kiakar wrote:
It felt just as you said, I wanted to shout at the people or men or whoever who thought all this stuff up for other people (women to endure in their life) And I know we as a people are no better for it than China because we have let Men get by with so much as ruling over us with their own personal beliefs. We blame each other and have always blamed each other but the women are not the ones responsible. From time beginning we have had no say so in anything. Men have made the rules. Did a man say, I like little feet and then made it a rule that only little footed women should marry weathier men?? I have attended lots of health seminars for working as a medication nurse for years and one of them opened my eyes to something that goes on in our country that is so unfair and still it goes on. A speaker, a man doctor got up and said that he attended studies on women's bodies where they would chopp off the breasts
of women and sat them aside and start dissecting other parts. One of the guys in the study asked why not study the breasts, and the drs or scientists said, all men of course, we have no use in studying them. That is, they only wanted to study the parts of the body that was like men. For years, women were not included in studies like of cancer or heart attacks at all. Yes, who invented the breast exam machine??? Men!!!
How soon was protrate cancer , the cure found fo rit? Sooner than any other cancer?
We are still coming in second or third. This is the whole factor, we want to look at other women and say, you shouldn't do this, I wouldnt do this, I couldnt do this, but we are doing things every day because we are less than man.
I was very uncomfortable reading this book. This is not the way I look at the hereafter and it upset me that it too was opposed to women being treated fairly. I loved the last book, Lisa wrote. It was so much about love even though it did have alot of the customs that I do not approve of or like. But hey, like I said, women did not invent them. If this world is still around in another century maybe it might reflect alittle more equal to men and women. But who knows. The world probably want last that long.


Kiakar,
I understand your frustrations very much. The more we talk about Part II, you will see that. I honestly dont want to put down anyones religious or personal beliefs but how, as a woman, can I not get riled at some of the things written here? Not the writing of it, but what it tells me about this culture then, and hopefully not quite so today. But like I said in a very early thread,my religion gets all kinds of hits too.

The thing is, if we were reading a book about, oh say some nice traditional married woman who bore lots of sons and was revered and didnt know all this stuff we are reading here. We might find what her destiny was, her funeral was, her afterlife was, all quite romantic and charming. We may not know the darker side of this to women, the "thin horses" or the "lovesick" unmarried women such as Peony.

I would personally hope this book would upset you. I would hope you would find it all very depressing as a woman, cause quite frankly to me it is. I know we have then ending yet to talk about, but the ending can not erase what is happening now that is real, or believed to be in the afterlife.

I will tell you how utterly disturbed I have been with part II on that thread as we go but yes, this is a very uncomfortable read so far. Thats ok too. Like I said, reading about the holocaust is too but I do. I also read a book called THE RAPE OF NANKING written by a woman I do believe and its nothing I ever heard in any history class, why? Has anyone read this book? Talk about a holocaust! But we dont hear about them.

You do make some of the same points I do, who decides these things, mostly men and yeah women's issues are going to be put on the back burner,(you bring up some very interesting points along these lines). But even if we say ok, most societies are governed by the ideas of men, why is that so? You say, hopefully it will change. That part has not changed since Peony's time and before and we know what it will take to change it, women taking control of their lives and not leaving it to men to decide and just accepting it and being mad. We have one of the best and effective ways of doing it too but if we cant get it together as women, take care of each other as women, stop the jealousies women have of other women, how will we affect it?

Here is the thing, one of the most intriguing things I have read so far, is the idea that the women ancestors can control if children will be born and if the family has SONS! This is power! Sons are everything and here is finally one way for woman to have power, be it for good or bad. The problem is, once the blessing is bestowed, it doesnt mean changes will be effected to help women who are alive but still this remains an immense power. Now think about us today, what power do we wield that could effect change worldwide? And I dont mean birth control lol. Its the very fact that we are still for the most part the keepers of the home and thereby the ECONOMIC leaders in the family. Not what money comes in always but what money goes out! We are the buyers! We do the shopping and can decide what will be bought in the long run if we as a group of the most powerful consumers understood that and worked together. NO magazines would show pictures of anorexic stars and their exploits and little girls in tiny clothes as models in catalogues, if WE didnt buy them! WE bring these things into the homes where are girls are, we let them buy these things, its not the men, even if they have decided what will be on these covers. Men dont buy the STAR, The Enquirer, the TEEN magazines, the catalogues. The ads on tv for this dress or that diet, are not aimed at men nor bought by them. WE give them this power. The irony too is, the magazines men buy to look at nude women and drool,DONT have these skinny women with no boobs in them! They like the curves! WE as women have allowed society to decide for us , then get upset with the results. In this life, we, the women consumers of the world, could change the views about women in a heartbeat but we dont. It takes more than just an occassional outburst about something, it takes commitment. We keep seeing Paris and Brittany because the media know we will buy it! We do have power but we too often use it against each other.
This is what bothers me about some of the posts in here Kiakar, how quickly the women have been willing to blame Peony's mother for so much and not think about what all goes into her decisions or theirs in blaming her. We said once early on, maybe we blame in others what we hate in ourselves. Maybe we need to think about that.

As far as the book or the beliefs written of in the book, I know neither of us mean to demean anyones religious beliefs as I said earlier, but YEAH, what is happening to Peony just flat sucks! lol and even if she winds up happy in then end, this part still will suck! And I think we can say that knowing that in our own lives, some things we must endure just flat suck too, even if we are happy in the end, if someone said, well how about that middle part you went through, that chemo or something, we are still going to say THAT PART SUCKED! LOL. So please do not be afraid to say what you are feeling as you read, thank you for letting me know someone is feeling something beyond just dissecting whose fault was this or that.There has got to be more feelings in here than that and I think they would come out if the author wasnt here but I think Lisa would understand and find that much more interesting to know what we were feeling when we read her book than just guarded statements.






Thanks for your reply to mine, Vivico. I do feel strongly about this and am glad others feel the same way. We let others do this to us! We have weapons and vice to counter against such cruel vengence against us as women. We can't blame our sisters for this, we have to blame all of us for not taking a strong stand against cruelty against all of us. Thank god! we have made alot of progress, but still we need alot of wisdom in to how to get the respect we need so much.And we certainly deserve it.
And when any one of us feels strong enought to voice an opinion I hope it want be taken badly because what we believe is just as important as what others think or believe. We should have a chance to voice them anywhere we see that others have written of their customs or beliefs are others who believe a certain way. Or just want to voice their opinions. I believe the Christian way, mostly. I believe it was a Christ and so forth. I do believe that heaven is like everywhere because we all will be spiritual. No hurt, no sin, no tears, no saddness. There will be happiness all the time. In the spirit we have no sinful bodies to get us down. I had trouble even trying to get into a pretend state of mind with all of these customs and beliefs. When I read fiction I can easily drift into a dream world, and the book becomes real to me, but this one, I just couldn't. It went against what I believe in most of all.
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Re: Rituals of Death

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kiakar wrote:




Thanks for your reply to mine, Vivico. I do feel strongly about this and am glad others feel the same way. We let others do this to us! We have weapons and vice to counter against such cruel vengence against us as women. We can't blame our sisters for this, we have to blame all of us for not taking a strong stand against cruelty against all of us. Thank god! we have made alot of progress, but still we need alot of wisdom in to how to get the respect we need so much.And we certainly deserve it.
And when any one of us feels strong enought to voice an opinion I hope it want be taken badly because what we believe is just as important as what others think or believe. We should have a chance to voice them anywhere we see that others have written of their customs or beliefs are others who believe a certain way. Or just want to voice their opinions. I believe the Christian way, mostly. I believe it was a Christ and so forth. I do believe that heaven is like everywhere because we all will be spiritual. No hurt, no sin, no tears, no saddness. There will be happiness all the time. In the spirit we have no sinful bodies to get us down. I had trouble even trying to get into a pretend state of mind with all of these customs and beliefs. When I read fiction I can easily drift into a dream world, and the book becomes real to me, but this one, I just couldn't. It went against what I believe in most of all.


Ok, I think several of us got some things out of the way, that some were feeling but didnt feel they could say. Thank you Kiakar and thank you KPL for joining in this discussion! I feel like we have a discussion now and not just a few people posting things and not getting any responses. I am glad you guys are here and ANYONE else that maybe hasnt posted yet, lets do it! You too Bentley, I am sure you got feelings and thoughts on the story aside from history and sites (which I do thank you for posting). This is not my belief system either but, once I got past that (semi :smileywink: ) then I could let my curiousity roam with the story and think about what each decision these people made, meant, whether in this world or the afterlife. Kiakar, you may be interested in some of my comments on other thread about some of the similarities in beliefs, even when others make you (meaning anyone of us having a problem with some of it) wanna scream. But now that we did scream lol, and since if we were there during this time (and somewhat today too) they would probably feel the same about our beliefs, lets see what we can talk about now. Man I am glad you guys finally let it out! lol.

I would be really interested now, in going to part II if you guys are there and lets discuss things there with the understanding that we may not agree with the belief but that there is an interesting story there of "choices" and what they mean in our lives. Also its ok to disagree but still be able to ask questions of interest about things in the book. I got lots to say about part II and am looking forward to just such openness in discussion in there. There is a story here for all women of any belief and if we agree to disagree on some things, we will stop worrying so much about talking about Chinese history as a safety net and talk about the story of these women. Not to say we all didnt need to ask some history questions or just want to or still will, but what I am saying is, we dont have to just talk about that now that we have addressed our fears of saying what we really feel right now. If a book is good, it should evoke strong emotions, whether it is a sense of well being, happiness, fun, intense intellectual interest or even anger. I will tell you now, that I almost put this book down, at first for so many things I didnt understand so was getting lost, then during part II because of my own strong feelings, but then once I "exorcised my own demons" I hung in there for the story and what all these women learn about life and worth and love. There is love in this book Kiakar and it will come up. There are many kinds of love and these are worth exploring. So, did we all finally exhale? LOL! lol. ok, hey everyone say where you are in the book ok? So we know how to gage our remarks in Part II and we dont have to hurry to part III, we got a couple of weeks here and there is lots in part II to talk about. Deep breaths and onward lol :smileywink:

Message Edited by vivico1 on 09-11-2007 09:27 PM
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
KPL
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Re: Rituals of Death

Vivico and Kiakar: I finished the book maybe a month ago, and have re-read certain stuff, so am here looking forward to talking. Like you, Vivico, I found myself frustrated, in my case thinking that I'd float along enjoying the story, but banging into some walls at times. (Maybe they were zigzags)lol. I'm not honestly so much into history—it's the customs and what I see/saw as confining stoicism that intrigue me. I go off on tangents googling like crazy and love the way that things I find make me think.
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Re: Rituals of Death


KPL wrote:
Vivico and Kiakar: I finished the book maybe a month ago, and have re-read certain stuff, so am here looking forward to talking. Like you, Vivico, I found myself frustrated, in my case thinking that I'd float along enjoying the story, but banging into some walls at times. (Maybe they were zigzags)lol. I'm not honestly so much into history—it's the customs and what I see/saw as confining stoicism that intrigue me. I go off on tangents googling like crazy and love the way that things I find make me think.


Well stay with us some of "the viewing terrace" and join in on discussing your views lol ok? We need some discussion and your thoughts on thing in the book too. Touch up on Part II and lets do that part ok? :smileywink:


By the way, psssst LISA! or anyone who can tell me, whats with the idea that ghosts cant make sharp corners??? Thus the zigzag bridges lol. I mean, I may not have agreed with what they could or couldnt do but this one, I was like huh??? how funny, what the heck is that about? So they just grab a shoulder or shirt tale and hitch a ride around tight corners lol what is the big deal there?? Again, if I thought seriously here for a moment lol, I could say, well our scriptures talk about staying on "the straight and narrow path", soooo, if these pathways were straight, would that allow the ones who strayed from right in this life to reach those still on the straight and narrow and do them harm?
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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Re: Rituals of Death


vivico1 wrote:
If a book is good, it should evoke strong emotions, whether it is a sense of well being, happiness, fun, intense intellectual interest or even anger. I will tell you now, that I almost put this book down, at first for so many things I didnt understand so was getting lost, then during part II because of my own strong feelings, but then once I "exorcised my own demons" I hung in there for the story and what all these women learn about life and worth and love. There is love in this book Kiakar and it will come up. There are many kinds of love and these are worth exploring. So, did we all finally exhale? LOL! lol. ok, hey everyone say where you are in the book ok? So we know how to gage our remarks in Part II and we dont have to hurry to part III, we got a couple of weeks here and there is lots in part II to talk about. Deep breaths and onward lol :smileywink:

Message Edited by vivico1 on 09-11-2007 09:27 PM



Wow, am I ever getting behind! I'm only a short way into part II but I'm working on it. I hate reading in bits and pieces but unfortunately that's the best I can do right now. I know very little about Chinese customs so I'm really trying to concentrate as I read so I'll understand this better. The customs can be very complicated with great detail. I do enjoy reading all of the posts, learning new things and hearing other opinions. Viv and Kiakar you had some intense posts today! I missed all of the action! I understand the points you were making and as with the book, I agree and disagree. I absolutely think that women should be able to control their own destinies. Girl Power! Unfortunately that isn't always possible, especially long ago. It's not easy to change long practiced customs and many people don't want to or don't feel the need to. I don't think it's for other people to make that decision either. It's different if a woman doesn't want to be involved in those customs or isn't safe. I wouldn't want someone from another culture telling me I had to change my ways because they didn't agree with them.

I have to say that I think there is love in this book from the beginning. It may not be demonstrated much but these people love each other and they love their culture. Peony's mother may be strict and stern but she is the eldest woman and she is in charge of all of the others. That is the behavior that is expected of her. Although I don't agree with the tactics used to try to "cure" her daughter (ignoring her, burning her books, etc.) she was advised to try these things and she thought she was helping. She was overwhelmed with grief when her daughter died. All of the family was. They may display it differently but they were. I was very much appalled when they left Peony outside to die. I couldn't comprehend doing that myself but they also couldn't rush her to the ER by helicopter either. It was very different. And their funerals were so complicated and lengthy. I would probably forget an important step! But again, that was a tradition and they felt that their loved one was off to another life. It may be different than other religions but that doesn't make it wrong. I think faith is an amazing, powerful thing but no one really knows what happens after we die. No one can say other's beliefs are wrong. I would like to believe that being a kind person, practicing a good life, striving to do your best, helping others, counts for more than just going to church on Sunday. Any religion that encourages and practices goodness can't be a bad thing can it?

And if Peony's love sickness was the same as anorexia, there is no easy fix. It's so complicated and can be deadly. I know several girls and a few boys with different degrees of this disease and it's not about getting attention or going off their diet, they do not comprehend what their body truly looks like. They have a distorted vision of themselves and they are constantly driven to lose more weight. One girl is severely malnourished and her parents have been trying for many years to help her. She is brilliant, pretty, her family has money and still they may not be able to save her. She has been to several treatment centers around the country and they haven't worked. She graduated at the top of her class but can't stay in any of the colleges she has attended because they refuse to keep her. She gets too sick and the school's insurance and liability becomes an issue. Sad but true. She could die at any time and she can't stop and it's no one's fault.

Please forgive my lack of expertise in any of these matters. These are just my own experiences and research. Like I mentioned I haven't finished the book yet so I can't compare yet to what happens beyond this. I'm sure more insight to this family is coming but that is what I've gotten out of it so far. This is a complicated but intriguing journey.
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Re: Rituals of Death

You make some very good points here wrighty. One that stood out in my mind was the idea of "faith". That is something we all do have in common and what we have to keep in mind when we are learning of how someone practices their faith. Some things we may not agree with and thats ok, and some things may just really upset us because of what it does to people when it can be harmful to them but is still important to them. A westerner is going to be upset by some of the ideas. A Western culture woman is probably going to be even more upset at times. I agree with you that anything that teaches kindness and charity and good things, is good in any culture. Its not about attending church on Sunday, wherever a person does. That should be the support and learning and sharing place for what you do the REST of your days in the week. We have saying in the south, maybe it is everywhere and that is, someone who calls themselves a Christian but only goes to church on Sunday and so that to them makes them a Christian. But then you see them parked all Monday at the nearest strip joint or cussing up a blue steak at people around them or even their own children, drinking all the time, (and driving that way, another pet peeve) and being dishonest in their dealings with others, stuff like that. They are called "Sunday Christians", meaning just that, you only see them playing the part on Sunday. Christian is not a title, its a way of life. Its what Christ meant it to be, a way of life, everyday. If you believe, its something you will practice everyday. This culture has that one thing that much of ours lack, and that is living their beliefs, everyday, always. I respect that. I do hate some of the beliefs because I try to place myself in it and I see what "my place" would be. Beyond that, I see two things, a good story but also some hard lessons for women about women, not just then but even now and thats going to evoke strong emotions. Its good to hear that actually, women speaking their emotions anyway. I dont think there are any men in here, if so it would be great if they spoke out. I think we asked at the first but there were none (or now we are scaring them into silence lol, which is not the intend).

I see Peony's "lovesickness" as similar to todays anorexia in the sense its about a girls control over something. And yeah it can get so messed up in their minds that they just cant see things clearly as they are and its one of the hardest things to cure ever, if there is such a thing as curing it, rather than managing it. I think the term lovesickness was just a convenient term for the deeper problem that they were not going to address at all.

When I was doing my post grad work in psychology, (just barely into it ok) and was at one of the hospitals psychiatric facilities (this one not dealing with psychotics, but depression, anxieties, neuroses and the like) there was an 17 year old girl in there instead of with the teen unit because she was anorexic and actually had other problems in the teen unit because what the kids thought was helping her would nearly kill her. Anyway, she had been in there for months and was still only about 79 pounds, she was critical even tho she could get around and function, her body was shutting down. She was allowed weekend passes when she had good weeks and her parents were counseled often ( this part goes to what I said before about hating in others what we see in ourselves---her mother was a very obese woman always telling her she was getting to heavy). The only way she could go home was with specific instructions to her AND her parents. She was weighed when she left and when she got back. This one week I was there, I saw her fighting with the psychiatrist, she had lost her pass for the next weekend because she came back 3 pounds lighter. I found her later sitting in a little nook away from everyone, alone, crying, and I sat down by her. I didnt say anything at first, just sat by her. She suddenly wrapped herself around me nearly cuddling up in my lap and I felt her body through those big baggy clothes for the first time and it was shocking but thankfully I didnt flinch. She rocked in my arms and said, "Why can't I be good?" I said, what do you mean? She said, why can't I be good and eat? I said, do you think eating means being a good person? She said yes and I try so hard on my weekends and now I have lost one. I said, Katie, I dont know what all you are going through or what all is happening to your body. I said, I do know you are a good person. I see it everyday here in how you are with others, that has nothing to do with your eating. You simply ARE a good person. I think the eating it to help keep that good person alive. She hugged me tighter and I hugged her tighter. She said, but why can't I eat? I said what happened this last weekend? She said my parents took me out to my favorite place and I did eat, I really did. I ate as much all weekend as I could! I said well, what happened? She said, I got sick each time and threw up and my parents got made at me, I am not a good person. I held on and said Katie, I know you have been told this already, but let me tell you again too, your body is at a very difficult place right now. It cant digest things in big quantities or of certain types, that it could before and so all that stuff comes back up on you and then you get dehydrated too and you lose more weight. I said its not because you are bad, you are not. Its about helping your body function right again now because we dont want you to get sick and I know how much you want to feel better. We talked about what she was able to eat in the hospital because she was finally getting to eat in the cafeteria of the unit now and pick some things. We talked about how her Dr, wasnt trying to be mean to her but trying to protect her until her weight could get up some more. We talked about, for now, eating those same things outside the hospital that she ate inside the hospital and talking to her Drs again about what she might add to it, right now it was mostly salads, which she loved, and nutritional drinks. We talked about the importance of the instructions they took home and about maybe getting her parents in even more or have the Dr talk more with them one on one about what was happening. (Cause they were trying to get her to GAIN weight on the weekends to get her out, by her shoveling food in her mouth like they could.) I talked to her Dr about what we had talked about and the teens were having a halloween dance and so it was decided to let her go to it, and so some of us helped her make a costume and she went and had fun. I think she talked to me because here she was in the adult ward with middle age and better adults and that age doctors and i was in my early 20s, closer to her age but not the teenagers either. Anyway, this disease that had her so messed up and near death several times because of what she believed about herself had now taken her to a place where it took everyone to help her fight back and she unlike many who would secretly purge, wanted to fight back and wanted to be told she was GOOD, of "value", "worth". This bad kind of control had finally been replaced by a healthier form of wanting control of her body and her life and this is one of the good stories actually, cause I saw her a year later and she was out of the hospital, had some weight on here, her face filled back in a bit differently looking, I hadnt thought about that, but it did but it was there! She was working at a part time job the Drs found for her and seeing them on her own now and finishing school. She looked happy and talked about being happy with herself, proud of herself! I didnt ask about her parents, I thought the fact she was living away from them was enough to know.

Anyway, if it took all this to save a girl who now really wanted to be saved, what chance did Peony's mother have that many centuries ago. I do not make fun or feel angry with anything they tried with her at this point. Its what they knew to try. 4 centuries from now I am sure people will gasp at us and be angry. My personal anger around that part of the story, her dying, is that the one thing they did know, was that this kind of not eating could be dangerous and so my anger is at all around Peony, who didnt intervene when it would have made a difference. Getting her "to eat" now wouldnt have, she couldnt eat at this stage anymore than Katie could have. When we wait for things to solve themselves and not involve ourselves, they will. Death has a way of solving a problem.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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LisaSee
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Re: Rituals of Death

Everyone has written such interesting things here. As a writer, I hope to inspire emotions -- good and bad ones. But most important, I hope that my stories inspire to think -- about themselves, about others, about the human condition, about how we've changed or not changed, about spirituality, about history, about love, about women, about tradition and how it can help us and hinder us. Please remember that this story takes place 300 years ago. The world -- China included -- was different then. (Just think for a moment about how women were treated in the rest of the world in 1650. They had no rights and no value.) Finally, I would just like to remind everyone that there's still much to be revealed.

Anyway, I'm enjoying the conversation and seeing how stirred up everyone has gotten. I wish I had an opinion about it all, but I don't know that that's my job as a writer. I just want to write the truest story to the time, place, and characters as possible. Again I go back to the idea of being in the room with the people I'm writing about. I want readers to feel what my characters are feeling -- all the hopelessness, helplessness, and confusion, as well as those moments of redemption, happiness, and atonement.
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margoolio
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Re: Rituals of Death



LisaSee wrote:
Everyone has written such interesting things here. As a writer, I hope to inspire emotions -- good and bad ones. But most important, I hope that my stories inspire to think -- about themselves, about others, about the human condition, about how we've changed or not changed, about spirituality, about history, about love, about women, about tradition and how it can help us and hinder us. Please remember that this story takes place 300 years ago. The world -- China included -- was different then. (Just think for a moment about how women were treated in the rest of the world in 1650. They had no rights and no value.) Finally, I would just like to remind everyone that there's still much to be revealed.

Anyway, I'm enjoying the conversation and seeing how stirred up everyone has gotten. I wish I had an opinion about it all, but I don't know that that's my job as a writer. I just want to write the truest story to the time, place, and characters as possible. Again I go back to the idea of being in the room with the people I'm writing about. I want readers to feel what my characters are feeling -- all the hopelessness, helplessness, and confusion, as well as those moments of redemption, happiness, and atonement.




Lisa you have definitely stirred up some emotions with this book! I guess for me reading this book was hard due to the fact that women were treated so poorly. It is hard for me being a woman in this day in age to understand fully what women went through then. I understand that it was definitely the culture for women not to count, except to have sons. I just wonder what the women back then thought of. Did they think that they should have rights? Did they wonder why they were not considered even human? Did they want to break out of the culture and do what they wanted or did they just comply with what they were handed? For me being a women now it is hard to think that I couldn't go out and do whatever I put my mind to. It would be more of myself getting in the way of my dreams then the culture in which I live in. It is just a hard concept to grasp but definitely one worth thinking about!
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Re: Rituals of Death

I am not trying to take anything back that I wrote before. I mean everything I said and probably could elaborate even more. But I didn't intend to suggest that no love was shown in this novel. Don't we do everything in the name of love? That is the ingredient we are seeking, isn't it? The customs were made for love. Follow the customs and you will seek and find fulfillment in love. I meant by what I did say about Lisa's Snow flower and the secret fan, is I saw more love develop and mature than I (emphsis on the I) did in this one. But this is all about love, we can't survive as human beings without it. It kills us and it makes us most alive, this thing called love. Peony's mom loved her unselfishly, the way she was taught to love. Or the way she ws taught to find real love. Love is strange, curious,secretive and alot of other words that I can't think of. But it makes this world go around and for all through out since the world has been here its been around and its what makes the world go around. I hated reading alot of this book, but how can you know history and learn from it if you don't read it. It happened, folks! But don't blame no one but the people who made the rules that every soul has followed and followed for many centuries. That is the way it goes, call it habit, call it obedience, call it following the rules, call it what you like, we think very little sometimes when we should be thinking big. Finally eyes opened, and we saw. Yes, I am glad I read this book and grateful that Lisa wrote it. It has been a eye opener and a great lesson to learn about life before my time.
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Re: Rituals of Death



margoolio wrote:


LisaSee wrote:
Everyone has written such interesting things here. As a writer, I hope to inspire emotions -- good and bad ones. But most important, I hope that my stories inspire to think -- about themselves, about others, about the human condition, about how we've changed or not changed, about spirituality, about history, about love, about women, about tradition and how it can help us and hinder us. Please remember that this story takes place 300 years ago. The world -- China included -- was different then. (Just think for a moment about how women were treated in the rest of the world in 1650. They had no rights and no value.) Finally, I would just like to remind everyone that there's still much to be revealed.

Anyway, I'm enjoying the conversation and seeing how stirred up everyone has gotten. I wish I had an opinion about it all, but I don't know that that's my job as a writer. I just want to write the truest story to the time, place, and characters as possible. Again I go back to the idea of being in the room with the people I'm writing about. I want readers to feel what my characters are feeling -- all the hopelessness, helplessness, and confusion, as well as those moments of redemption, happiness, and atonement.




Lisa you have definitely stirred up some emotions with this book! I guess for me reading this book was hard due to the fact that women were treated so poorly. It is hard for me being a woman in this day in age to understand fully what women went through then. I understand that it was definitely the culture for women not to count, except to have sons. I just wonder what the women back then thought of. Did they think that they should have rights? Did they wonder why they were not considered even human? Did they want to break out of the culture and do what they wanted or did they just comply with what they were handed? For me being a women now it is hard to think that I couldn't go out and do whatever I put my mind to. It would be more of myself getting in the way of my dreams then the culture in which I live in. It is just a hard concept to grasp but definitely one worth thinking about!




Women didn't really fight it back then. How could they? They were so much a part of the system themselves. They believed in the system. They were the ones who bound their daughters' feet, for example. They were the ones who gave their lives up for their husbands and sons or committed suicide rather than bring disgrace on their families. I guess you could say it was a kind of society brainwashing where everyone was going along with the status quo.

What was unique to me about this particular period in Chinese history is that women did break away in different ways. The loveisck maidens were rebelling, even though we have a hard time understanding that or the outcome. The women in the Banana Garden Club -- I don't think we've gotten to them yet -- certainly broke the usual pattern and were respected for what they did.
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Re: Rituals of Death



kiakar wrote:
I am not trying to take anything back that I wrote before. I mean everything I said and probably could elaborate even more. But I didn't intend to suggest that no love was shown in this novel. Don't we do everything in the name of love? That is the ingredient we are seeking, isn't it? The customs were made for love. Follow the customs and you will seek and find fulfillment in love. I meant by what I did say about Lisa's Snow flower and the secret fan, is I saw more love develop and mature than I (emphsis on the I) did in this one. But this is all about love, we can't survive as human beings without it. It kills us and it makes us most alive, this thing called love. Peony's mom loved her unselfishly, the way she was taught to love. Or the way she ws taught to find real love. Love is strange, curious,secretive and alot of other words that I can't think of. But it makes this world go around and for all through out since the world has been here its been around and its what makes the world go around. I hated reading alot of this book, but how can you know history and learn from it if you don't read it. It happened, folks! But don't blame no one but the people who made the rules that every soul has followed and followed for many centuries. That is the way it goes, call it habit, call it obedience, call it following the rules, call it what you like, we think very little sometimes when we should be thinking big. Finally eyes opened, and we saw. Yes, I am glad I read this book and grateful that Lisa wrote it. It has been a eye opener and a great lesson to learn about life before my time.




you're right that this is a very different book from Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. Peony in Love is a much more challenging novel -- as we've seen from the discussion. Some people -- not here, obviously, but other readers -- much prefer Peony to Snow Flower, while some prefer Snow Flower. I guess all I can do as a writer is write the best book possible in the moment and hope that it finds readers who will enjoy it, knowing that tastes will differ and people will read each book differently, depending on where they are in their lives.

Ultimately, I think Peony in Love is about the different kinds of love we experience: the love we feel from mother to daughter, the love we experience as young girls and how it changes as we grow up, the love we have for words and books or whatever is our own particular passion (knitting, running, gardening, or high finance).
Snow Flower, on the other hand, told a much simpler story of the love between two friends.
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