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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

Peach Blossom Spring

Warning: Spoilers Ahead!

1. What purposes do Meilin’s scroll stories serve throughout the narrative? What do they mean to Meilin? In what ways do they shape the person Renshu/Henry becomes?

2. How do ideas from Tao Qian’s poem "Peach Blossom Spring" echo with larger themes in the novel? What was your reaction when Henry discovered how the original poem differed from Meilin’s version? Why did Meilin change the story?

3. What was your favorite fable in the novel? Was there one lesson that resonated with you more than the others?

4. Languages are important in this book. How is language used both to bring people together as well as keep people apart?

5. On p. 89, Longwei tells Meilin, "China has become a chessboard." What does he mean? How does Meilin see things differently? Do you think either is right? Discuss how their different visions for China shape their choices throughout the novel.

6. What were Longwei’s motivations in switching the names on Renshu’s visa application? Do you think what he did was wrong or necessary or maybe both?

7. Early on, Meilin tells Renshu that "regret is a heavy burden." Later, she reflects that "it’s impossible to have complete conviction that you’ve made all the right decisions. No one is that lucky or that naive." What regrets, if any, do you think the characters have?

8. Are Renshu and Henry different people? How does taking on a new identity help Renshu? Does it also harm him?

9. Henry and Rachel’s relationship is the one marriage we see in the book of some duration. How does their relationship change, and how do they change each other over the years?

10. Discuss how the novel explores motherhood. What does a mother owe to her children? Is Meilin a good mother? Is Rachel? How is raising a child different during a time of great struggle --- such as during a war? In what ways are their challenges the same?

11. Why does Henry become paranoid living in Los Alamos? What do you think he is really afraid of? How does his fear affect Lily?

12. Do you wish Meilin could have found a way to live in America? Would her life have been better there?

13. What does Henry and Lily’s trip to Taiwan mean for each of them? Does it change how they see themselves, their family and each other?

14. Why does Henry become obsessed with growing fruit trees? What does an orchard mean to him? What did it mean to Meilin?

15. Towards the end, Lily says, "I never realised that my father has such a nice smile." What has made it possible for Henry to smile and for Lily to finally see it?

16. Each of the main characters, Meilin, Renshu/Henry and Lily goes on a kind of journey. For each of them, what is the journey? How are their journeys similar --- and how are they different? What are the events that change them the most, and how are they changed?

Peach Blossom Spring
by Melissa Fu

  • Publication Date: February 28, 2023
  • Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books
  • ISBN-10: 0316286877
  • ISBN-13: 9780316286879