Petals from the Sky
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From the acclaimed author of Peach Blossom Pavilion comes a lush and lyrical novel of East and West--and of one young woman's search for her heart's true calling. . .
When twenty-year-old Meng Ning declares that she wants to be a Buddhist nun, her mother is aghast. In her eyes, a nun's life means only deprivation--"no freedom, no love, no meat." But to Meng Ning, it means the chance to control her own destiny, and to live in an oasis of music, art, and poetry far from her parents' unhappy union.
With an enigmatic nun known as Yi Kong, "Depending on Emptiness," as her mentor, Meng Ning spends the next ten years studying abroad, disdaining men, and preparing to enter the nunnery. Then, a fire breaks out at her Buddhist retreat, and Meng Ning is carried to safety by Michael Fuller, a young American doctor. The unprecedented physical contact stirs her curiosity. And as their tentative friendship grows intimate, Meng Ning realizes she must choose between the sensual and the spiritual life.
From the austere beauty of China's Buddhist temples to the whirlwind of Manhattan's social elite, and the brilliant bustle of Paris and Hong Kong, here is a novel of joy and heartbreak--and of the surprising paths that lead us where we most need to be.
Praise for Peach Blossom Pavilion
"Lovely and poignant. . .a novel of heartache, but also one of hope as the strong heroine never gives in." --Curled Up With A Good Book
"Beautiful and evocative, real and heart-wrenching. . .insightful and memorable." --Romantic Times
"A rare peek into an exotic culture that is thrilling, captivating, and moving." –Shobhan Bantwal
can newlyweds not prepare roast pig for their wedding?” “But why not?” I asked, popping several peanuts into my mouth. “Because roasted pig, especially baby pig, is proof of the bride’s virginity!” “Are you kidding?” I stopped chewing. Straightening her lavender cotton pajamas, Mother picked up a pig-fat sweet cake and put on an authoritative air. “On the wedding night, only after the groom has verified his wife is a virgin, will his parents send roast pig to the guests the following day.
departing figures. Bravo, I almost shouted to her. Where did she get her strength? Surely not from her arthritic hands nor her crooked cane. Was it from jealousy aroused by the aura of youth and beauty that had once shone on her, but had now passed on to the girls? I was lost in this scene when Dai Nam’s voice rang like a broken bell in my ears. “Meng Ning.” I looked up and saw my friend in a plain white cotton shirt, loose dark blue slacks, and sandals. Her hair seemed shorter than the last
I took the key from the man at the reception desk, went to my room on the third floor, put down my luggage, then headed straight to the communal bathroom to take a shower. After fifteen minutes, refreshed from the scalding water, hot steam, and the pleasant smell of sandalwood soap, I went back to my room, changed into my pajamas, and sat in bed to prepare for my oral defense the next afternoon. I could study only halfheartedly, distracted by thoughts about Dai Nam. While I tried to imagine what
pointed to small bundles of rolled-up rice paper on a tray. “Now pick your fortune.” When I hesitated, he said, “Don’t worry, miss, all good ones.” With a pounding heart, I picked up a paper scroll, untied the ribbon, and let my fortune unroll in my palm: Chances of success: Good Thunder awakens one who’s in a cocoon. The butterfly flies off under the evening sun. What’s within and without combines. The phoenix finally takes off to meet the dragon. Confusion together with a
You like Beijing opera, don’t you?” I did. I remembered as a child how I was thrilled by the actors with their lianpu, multicolored face patterns. My tiny heart never failed to be captivated by patterns moving on the actors’ faces as if a giant portrait were springing to life! Mother had eagerly taught me how to recognize their symbols. White Face is bad, so be careful of him; Black Face is righteous, so pay respect to him; Green Face is cunning and touchy, so stay away from him; Red Face is