Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan - Lisa See

Title: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
Author: Lisa See
Country: USA
Year: 2005
Pages: 269 pgs.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

First sentence: I am what they call in our village "one who has not yet died"--a widow, eighty years old.

See's historical novel takes place in a remote part of China during the 19th century - a time when all girls had there feet bound at the tender age of seven, marriages were arranged by the time they were ten, and women were confined to the upstairs room of their home for the majority of their life. We meet Lily, daughter of a farmer, and Snow Flower, who is the descendent of a wealthy, respected family. They are paired up as laotong, or "old sames" in a match meant to last a lifetime, a bond that is stronger than marriage. Communicating through nu shu, a secret women's language, Lily and Snow Flower send messages to each other on a fan, sharing their hopes and dreams.

It has taken me a long time to work out a review for this novel. One reason is my currently chaotic life as we prepare to pack up and move out-of-state. But I have also had a hard time putting into words what I feel about this book. On a purely entertainment level, it is a wonderful read. However, Lisa See's American perspective dominates the novel, and I felt she really didn't have a firm grasp of the culture and time period of 19th century Hunan China to write this story. It is not necessarily a book to read for insight into Chinese history and customs, as I fear it may be filled with inaccuracies. For that I would recommend Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang.


Joy said...

Well, at least you enjoyed it somewhat. :) Happy Moving!

3M said...

I loved both books. Wild Swans was my #1 non-fiction for 2007, and Snow Flower shared the #1 spot of 2007 with the Book Thief in fiction.

I hope your move goes well! I know how chaotic that can be. I dealt with that last year and may have to again soon...

Marg said...

I liked this book a lot. Just curious - what aspects did you think might have been inaccurate? It's been a while since I read it, so I probably won't remember everything anyway, but just in general terms would be okay!

Good luck with your move!

Teddy Rose said...

I loved this book, but I'm glad that you liked it somewhat. Thanks for the book recommendation, I added it to my TBR.

Good luck with the move! I hope it goes smoothly!

aleksandra said...

In Poland (where im from)Lisa See is very popular but here where i live now (England)i cant find any of her book. I`ve just found your blog and didnt read all but im curious about polish writers. Did you find something interesting from polish writers? anyway im going back to your blog (sorry for mistakes, still learn english).
Good luck with move :)))

Charley said...

I've been meaning to read this one for a while, but each time I've tried I just can't get into it. I'll still give it a chance, but maybe I'll follow it up with Wild Swans. Thanks for the review and recommendation.

Stephanie said...

I really enjoyed Snow Flower but found the chapter when they bound their feet to be so disturbing. To think that some of my husbands ancestors had to bind their feet is just horrific.