Title: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
Author: Lisa See
Summary: In nineteenth-century China, when wives and daughters were foot-bounded and lived in almost total seclusion, the woman in one remote Human country developed their own secret code for communication: nu shu (“women’s writing”). Some girls were paired with laotongs “old sames”, in the emotional matches that lasted through-out their lives. They painted letters on fans, embroidered messages on handkerchiefs, and composed stories, thereby reaching out of their isolation to share their hopes, dreams and accomplishments.
With the arrival of a silk fan on which Snow Flower has composed for Lily a poem of introduction in nu shu, their friendship is sealed and they become “old sames” at the tender age of seven. As the years pass, through famine and rebellion, the reflect upon their arranged marriages, 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 life long friend ship suddenly threatens to tear apart.
My Rating: 9.75/10
What I liked/disliked about the book: This book was pretty much impossible to put down, I only managed to set it down, when I was too exhausted to read anymore. But what a fantastic read! Lisa See did a wonderful job at creating a beautiful friendship between the two characters of the book, filling it with emotional passages and a strong bond between these two girls, who grow together into women. The story is written in an autobiographic sort of way, so we only get to view things through Lily’s eyes, but the author did such a fantastic job in writing in the head of this woman, you almost want to believe she lived years and years ago, and these are her thoughts she left behind. The friendship, and how it was portrayed and written, is probably my favourite aspect of the book, and I was so involved with the characters, it drove me mad to see them hurt, to see them fight, to see them sick etc.
Another aspect of the story I enjoyed was the aspect of Ancient Chinese traditions, the ways woman were treated, the hardships they faced, and how they were perceived in society. Again, the author does a wonderful job at showing this to the readers, the foot-binding process it very, cringe worthy, and grotesque, but handle beautifully, in that it showed a very real out look at what woman had to go through during these times. Lisa See easily is able to paint a very realistic picture in her readers heads, in every scene of what is happening, what our characters is feeling emotionally and what they’re thinking, with words.
One issue I had, was sometimes it moves a little slower then I would have liked it, it moves slow, because it needs to build the relationship up to what it is and how it ends, but at times, I felt like I just wanted to move on with the issue already. Overall, a beautiful read, and another author who I look forward to reading more works by her, this book has quickly become one of my favourite of the year, and the characters in it and their friendship, one that will stick with me (and likely other readers) for a while
Would I recommend it to read: Yes! The book for me was almost impossible to put down, beautiful writing and an amazing story. I was reluctant to read it at first, because it was advertised so much, and everyone talked about it non-stop (in the past I’ve found when this happens, the book doesn’t live up to it’s standards), but this most differently lived up to what I’ve heard about it and more. Give it a try, and you, like me, should find this book hard to set down.
What to read next: Memoirs of a Geisha, I also looked on LibraryThing and it recommend, The Secret Life of Bees
Challenges: 100+ Challenge, 999 Challenge, August Reading Challenge