Image of Peach Blossom Pavilion


Image of Peach Blossom Pavilion

Yip's English-language debut is beautiful and evocative. The relationships between her characters are real and heart-wrenching. Though the West's recent fascination with the Chinese "flower houses" has led to a plethora of books along these lines, this particular one is rendered insightfully and memorably. The novel is flawed slightly by the overuse of stereotypes
in its modern scenes, however.

Xiang Xiang's father is wrongfully executed and her mother forced to become a Buddhist nun. Instead of being taken to a rich man's mansion to work as a maid, she is tricked into entering the Peach Blossom Pavilion, a house for prestigious prostitutes, or "book chamber ladies."

Her adventures in the Peach Blossom Pavilion lead to treasured friendships, love, riches, poverty and revenge. With her trade name of Precious Orchid, Xiang Xiang makes her way all the way across China and, eventually, to the United States. (Kensington, Jun., 421 pp., $14.00)
Reviewed by: 
Victoria Frerichs