The whole book was extra ordinary - and at the end of the book, The Author's Note explained more not only about the afterlife, but of the extraordinary women writers in early history of China. Just as in other countries around the world women were regarded as little more than chattels, mens' property and totally discouraged from writing or doing anything artistic. I can't imagine how that would be to live in such restrictions. We know that many women wrote and that women's writing groups were around hundreds and hundreds of years ago, and women wrote in secret - hence the secret women's language as Lisa See wrote about in Snowflower and the Secret Fan.
I am so much a fan of Lisa See now. I look forward to reading more of her writing.
It would also help so much in understanding the story of Peony in Love to have seen, or read about the famed "Peony Pavilion" written by Tang Hsien-tsu (1550 - 1616).
You can read the synopsis of it here.