May 31, 2009

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

In nineteenth-century China, when wives and daughters were foot-bound and lived in almost total seclusion, the women in one remote Hunan county developed their own secret code for communication: nu shu (“women’s writing”). Some girls were paired with laotongs, “old sames,” in emotional matches that lasted throughout 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, they 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 lifelong friendship suddenly threatens to tear apart. (from Barnes and Noble)

I needed 2 months to mourn the loss of Twilight but I'm back! And what a great book to get me back in the saddle! I love Asian literature and I heard so many great things about Snow Flower so it wasn't a hard decision to make on whether to read this book or not. It didn't disappoint. It was a fast and fantastic read and as soon as I finished I gave it to my sister so she could enjoy it too--and she did. The whole footbinding process was difficult to read but the culture of it was so intriguing I immediately googled pics of footbinding annnnnd immediately wished I hadn't. Ugh. Still, a very interesting culture and I can't wait to read more from Lisa See.