Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Wasn't this also a movie? In my opinion, too many books are made into film. I prefer to use my imagination and get more in-depth descriptions through the pages of a book than getting the condensed version on screen. As I jump off my soapbox...

I came across Snow Flower and the Secret Fan on CD at my local library. It's tells of Chinese women in the 1800s and how their lives are so completely controlled and predestined for them by the elder men and women in their lives. Lily spends the majority of her day in the women's chamber; a one-window room within the house that isolates the females from the males in the home. Her feet were bound by the time she was seven; just after she was paired with an "old same" (an emotional match of friendship, in the same vein as arranged marriages). Lily's laotong was Snow Flower. The girls communicate with each other using nu shu, a form of secret writing, only taught to women. Lily tells of her life, friendship with Snow Flower, marriage, family, deaths, plagues and children.

Lisa See seamlessly intertwined a history lesson with beautiful prose. Her description of foot binding was very graphic, and while westerners may have a difficult time understanding this ancient tradition, the author put a light on the subject that helped me to understand the reason women underwent the painful and crippling process.

In the end, Snow Flower... is just a lovely story about women and friendship. It's quite unlike anything I have read before, but I truly enjoyed it.

* * *-1/2 * *