Saturday, July 11, 2009


I lied: the next RA element we're talking about is details. I don't have a good example for characterization yet, and I still don't quite understand it completely.

Some readers read for details, and the type of details are important to these readers. Although Lisa See's Peony in Love is good historical fiction, it may not appeal to certain readers interested in 17th-century China settings and details, especially of upper-class home life and customs (foot-binding, holiday festivities, clothing, dowries, etc). The book evokes the time period and details those things mentioned above beautifully in the first 100 pages.

However, once the narrator dies, the details shift to focus on Chinese mythology and the rules of the afterlife and rituals of the living. There is a brief interlude of war details as Peony's grandmother describes the Cataclysm, when the Ming dynasty fell. So, although this is evokative and detailed historical fiction, a reader who reads for historical details and a setting related to domestic 17th-century China may lose interest in Peony's afterlife. It's better suited for readers who appreciate the particulars of ancient Chinese customs, superstitions, and mythology.

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