Peach Blossom Pavilion by Mingmei Yip
Description from Goodreads
A seductive and evocative debut that opens the doors on life as a Chinese courtesan in the Peach Blossom Pavilion…
Behind the doors of the pavilion, a world of sensuality and intrigue awaits…
Xiang Xiang’s life as an innocent girl is about to change beyond recognition.
Falsely accused of murder, Xiang Xiang’s father is executed, and her mother forced into a Buddhist nunnery. Xiang Xiang, alone and friendless at thirteen years old, is tricked into entering the Peach Blossom Pavilion, where she is given the name Bao Lan – Precious Orchid.
There she is trained in the fine arts of womanhood, studying music, literature, painting, and more importantly, the art of seduction and pleasuring men; and becomes one of China’s most successful courtesans.
However, Precious Orchid is determined to avenge her parents and sets out on a journey that includes passion, adventure, danger, fame, and finally, her chance to achieve the justice she has sought so long.
An enchanting tale of opulence and desire, perfect for fans of Anchee Min and Memoirs of a Geisha.
I gave this book five stars out of five
I really enjoyed this book. It was a memoir, a journey through life, a story about overcoming misfortune and rising above it.
The writing was of a very high standard and I enjoyed reading about China in this period and experiencing the sights and sounds of the different regions. The many descriptive passages of the settings were wonderfully vivid and expressive. The culture of this world was riveting.
There are no doubt many that will draw numerous parallels between Peach Blossom Pavilion and Arthur Golden’s, ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’, but I feel that doing this would be doing a disservice to oneself. Apart from the setting and the general subject of the book, these were very different stories.
The inner workings of the many Pavilions’ and the lives of the prostitutes that worked there were illuminating.
I quickly became invested in the protagonist Xiang Xiang, and her relationship with Pearl was interesting. The development of the main characters, and the building of fascinating and involved backstories, that were later relied upon as motivation for future events, was cleverly expounded. I liked the way that Xiang Xiang grew and developed into a successful prostitute, but also her inner strength and drive to avenge the wrongs done her family, and ultimately her growth as a woman.
It was interesting to unravel the continued involvement, through coincidence, that the man that had started the series of events that resulted in Xiang Xiang ending up in the prostitution house, had in her life.
I found this an easy book to get lost in. It was well paced, with the story moving along rapidly.
It was interesting to see the Xiang Xiang of the present, and how different her life had been in the period she was remembering and relating.
I would most certainly recommend this as an enjoyable read. Despite the differences between this and ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’, I believe that both books are cut from a similar cloth, and if you enjoyed Arthur Golden’s novel, then you will most certainly enjoy this extremely well written and remarkably executed story, by Mingmei Yip.
This review is based on a complimentary copy provided by Netgalley and the publisher.