Friday, September 5, 2008
Amateur Book Review - Snow Flower and The Secret Fan
This book was recommended by my son's speech instructor who only had good things to say about it.
Sheress and I picked it up as our mini book club pick after Sheress read the back cover.
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See, is the story of Lily, her "Same" and an ancient language (nu shu – "women's writing") kept a secret for a thousand years forms the backdrop for an unforgettable novel of two Chinese women whose friendship and love sustains them through their lives. Certain girls are paired as "old-sames" in emotional matches that last throughout their lives. They paint letters on fans, embroidered messages on handkerchiefs, and composed stories, thereby reaching out of their windows to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments.
The story is engrossing and extremely interesting. It takes place in 10th century China and is wonderfully written. Very poetic and moves beautifully as you read. I never felt it slowed or got boring or too wordy.
There were some very disturbing parts of the book for me. The descriptions of what girls would go through for foot binding at their hands of their own mothers were a little hard to read.
Also, the fact that these women feel that "they were born wrong" simply because they weren't born men is also hard to swallow. As a daughter you are married out and your family receives a bounty for your hand. You live with your family after marriage and only move into your husband's families home after you give birth. You serve your mother-in-law or whatever elder mother is in the home until you move up the ranks (hopefully).
Son's on the other hand marry and their wives and children move into the family home to serve you. Since a family receives a bounty of food, jewels, fabric and other things for the hand of a women I find them very valuable. I think their way of thinking is a bit backward but that's just me. What the hell do I know?
If you are looking for a great read, with beautiful elegance and history, read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. I was inspired by some of the traditions between the women of China and my heart goes out to anyone who ever feels they were born wrong.
Read a sample here.