Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
by Lisa See
Paperback, 253 pages
Published February 21st 2006 by Random House Trade Paperbacks
In nineteenth-century China, in a remote Hunan county, a girl named Lily, at the tender age of seven, is paired with a laotong, “old same,” in an emotional match that will last a lifetime. The laotong, Snow Flower, introduces herself by sending Lily a silk fan on which she’s painted a poem in nu shu, a unique language that Chinese women created in order to communicate in secret, away from the influence of men. As the years pass, Lily and Snow Flower send messages on fans, compose stories on handkerchiefs, reaching out of isolation to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments. Together, they endure the agony of foot-binding, and reflect upon their arranged marriages, shared loneliness, and the joys and tragedies of motherhood. The two find solace, developing a bond that keeps their spirits alive. But when a misunderstanding arises, their deep friendship suddenly threatens to tear apart.
I am not going to write my own synopsis of this book, because for once I have no idea what to write. Don’t get me wrong, it is not because I did not like the book, on the contrary- I LOVED IT. But there are SO many things that this book is about that I am sure with my meager reviewing skills I will leave out something very important.
I read this book in October, yes almost a month back and I don’t remember ever waiting this long to write a review. This is what historical fiction should be, I love this kid of books. The setting, the characters are believable and even the last Author’s note is worth reading. There is another thing that is a first for me, is I keep going back and choose a random passage out and read it. For some reason, this makes me feel good. I know in the very near future I will re-read this book.
If anything, I cannot wait to get my hands on more books by this author, she is awesome and has an interesting way with words. As the story progressed, I was sure somewhere I would definitely get bored of the narration ( it was slow, awe-inspiring one), but I did not. This is a character – driven novel which has a fantastic plot and documents an important phase in the history of China, which is fascinating to say the least. The peak into the rich Chinese culture is everything I had imagined and more. And there are quotes (so many) that I would love to quote, but I would be writing almost the whole book here. 🙂 This, I think, would be a great bookclub selection too.
I just think you should go READ it. It is THAT GOOD, trust me 🙂
Foot size would determine how marriageable I was. My small foot would be offered as proof to my prospective in-laws of my personal discipline and my ability to endure the pain of child-birth, as well as whatever misfortunes might lie ahead. My small feet would show the world my obedience to my natal family, particularly to my mother, which will also make a good impression on my future mother-in-law. The shoes I embroider would symbolize to my future-in-laws my ability at embroidery and thus other house learning. And, though I knew nothing of this at the time, my feet would be something that would hold my husband’s fascination during the most private and intimate moments between he man and a woman.