Friday, April 19, 2013

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

My Mimi read this one and recommended it.  Books set in Asia aren't usually my thing, but I am glad I read it anyway.  Snow Flower and Lily are bound together as "old sames" by a matchmaker when they are little girls.  The novel explores the depths of friendship and the complexities of growing up.  I learned a lot about the Chinese culture and more than I wanted to know about foot-binding.  Definitely a good, memorable read.

Summary (from Amazon):
See's engrossing novel set in remote 19th-century China details the deeply affecting story of lifelong, intimate friends (laotong, or "old sames") Lily and Snow Flower, their imprisonment by rigid codes of conduct for women and their betrayal by pride and love. While granting immediacy to Lily's voice, See (Flower Net) adroitly transmits historical background in graceful prose. Her in-depth research into women's ceremonies and duties in China's rural interior brings fascinating revelations about arranged marriages, women's inferior status in both their natal and married homes, and the Confucian proverbs and myriad superstitions that informed daily life. Beginning with a detailed and heartbreaking description of Lily and her sisters' foot binding ("Only through pain will you have beauty. Only through suffering will you have peace"), the story widens to a vivid portrait of family and village life. Most impressive is See's incorporation of nu shu, a secret written phonetic code among women—here between Lily and Snow Flower—that dates back 1,000 years in the southwestern Hunan province ("My writing is soaked with the tears of my heart,/ An invisible rebellion that no man can see"). As both a suspenseful and poignant story and an absorbing historical chronicle, this novel has bestseller potential and should become a reading group favorite as well. 

Read: April 2013 via gift from Mimi

No comments: