Thursday, March 20, 2008

“Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” by Lisa See

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” by Lisa See
2006 Random House
ISBN: 0-8129-6806-9

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” by Lisa See opened my eyes to the world of women in China of the nineteenth century. I almost didn’t make it past the second chapter which had to do with footbinding, but I’m glad I did. The rest of the book is a wonder of the love, friendship and eventual betrayal and reconciliation between two women that goes from the time they are little girls, to when they marry and begin having children, to moving through war and for one of them prosperity and the other privation.

Snow Flower and Lily became bound at an early age as laotong, lifelong friends of the heart. They had their feet bound the same day, as young girls, living in misery for the two years it took for the bones to break and form again into feet only 3 inches long. Footbinding has long been outlawed in China, but there are women still alive with these tiny feet.

This is a story of how women lived in those times. Lived and tried against terrible odds to prosper and flourish. Against disease and war, against horrible cultural prejudices, against daily violence and grinding poverty these women emerge with stories to sing of and to write of in the secret woman’s language of nu shu. I am amazed that this language could be used in such a repressive society, but it did. If you want to read a sample chapter, Lisa See has made it available at her website.

This is one of those books I just could not put down. If you read it I’m betting you will enjoy it too.

1 comment:

Sun Singer said...

I also enjoyed this book. Now that "Peony in Love" is out in paperback, I'm finally reading it. Like "Snow Flower," it's a good story and opens up more of the women's world in China of years ago. "Peony" is set during the Manchu period.

Malcolm