Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

Snow Flower and Lily are laotongs-"the same." They were united by a matchmaker when they were both seven years old. They are bound to be best friends for life. They live in different villages and communicate on a fan by writing nu shy. Nu shu is the secret Chinese writing that women use to communicate with each other without men knowing.

The story is set in the 19th century. Women were just property. They were raised to be given away. Sons were much desired and the woman who couldn't produce them was replaced by concubines.

Snow Flower and Lily share their dreams and hopes through the fan from their foot-binding through the births of their children. But naturally as they grow up they learn. And this brings changes in personalities that lead to misunderstanding.

This is a very good book. It describes the era just through the lives the girls are led through without turning into a history book. The description of the foot-binding is one of the most horrific things I've ever read. My feet hurt just thinking about it. I can't imagine a culture that would do that.

My sister insisted I read this. And I'm going to insist my sister-in-law reads it next.

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