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  • Heartwarming Moments: This is a novel about true love (Peony and Wu Ren) and true friendship (Peony and Quin Yi). There are many of these moments, but the winner has got to be Wu Ren helping Quin Yi getting her and Peony's writing published, because he loves and supports them both so much that he is willing to defy ancient conventions and get their womanly voices out into the world.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Tan Ze. She's a Spoiled Brat who complains constantly about her new home and husband from the moment she arrives, considering everyone and everything there to be beneath her. But then she's used as a human puppet by a lonely ghost who forces her into being a compliant and sexually generous wife to a husband she doesn't love. And then not only does she suffer through Death by Childbirth, she's condemned to a special hell for women who suffered Death by Childbirth and failed to give their husbands sons. Small wonder she comes back later as a vengeful demon.
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  • One-Scene Wonder: For a few chapters Peony follows around the Banana Garden Five, a small group of female poets/intellectuals who actually existed in Real Life.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Peony's Jerkass grandfather made her grandmother sacrifice herself for him and their son to save them from Manchu soldiers. Small wonder she cursed him and his line in the afterlife.
  • Squick: The long, detailed descriptions of footbinding. Doubles as Nightmare Fuel and is, horrifically, Truth in Television.
    • The scenes where Peony manipulates a reluctant Tan Ze into having sex with Wu Ren are also pretty uncomfortable to read.
  • Tear Jerker: About three quarters of this book is Tear Jerker material. You have been warned.
  • The Woobie: Peony, Peony, Peony.
    • Wu Ren, whose heart breaks to pieces and stays that way for a long time after Peony dies.
    • Peony's mother and grandmother as well, once you read about the sheer hell they went through before Peony was born.
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