"Out of the gravel there are peonies growing. They come up through the loose grey pebbles, their buds testing the air like snails' eyes, then swelling and opening, huge dark-red flowers all shining and glossy like satin. Then they burst and fall to the ground." (p.5)
"I watch the peonies out of the corners of my eyes. I know they shouldn't be here.It's April, and peonies don't bloom in April. There are three more now right in front of me, growing out of the path itself. Furtively I reach out my hand to touch one. It has a dry feel, and I realize it's made of cloth." (p.6)
"It was Agnes who helped me with the burial. We put flowers from Mrs. Alderman Parkinson's garden into the coffin, having asked permission; and it being June, there were long-stemmed roses and peonies; and we chose only the white ones. I scattered the petals of them over her as well, and I slipped in the needle-case I'd made for her, but out of sight, as it might look wrong otherwise, being red; and I cut a piece off the back of her hair to remember her by, and tied it together with a thread." (p.229)
"It was a lovely and windless evening, and the birds were twittering, and the trees in the orchard near the road were golden in the late sunlight, and the purple milkweed flowers that grew beside the drive smelled very sweetly; and also the last few peonies beside the verandah, and the climbing roses; and the coolness came down out of the air, while Jamie sat and played on his flute, so plaintively it did your heart good." (p.268)
"If you stare into the darkness with your eyes open you are sure to see something after a time. I hope it will not be flowers. But this is the time they like to grow, the red flowers, the shining red peonies which are like satin, which are like splashes of paint. The soil for them is emptiness, it is empty space and silence. I whisper, Talk to me; because I would rather have talking than the slow gardening that takes place in silence, with the red satin petals dripping down the wall.
I think I sleep." (p.344)
All quotes taken from Alias Grace, by Margaret Atwood, book offered by Corri.