Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Book Review : Snow Flower and the Secret Fan By Lisa See

I'm not a writer, eloquently describing a beautiful passage or story. I don't think i would do justice in my review of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See.

The story is set in the 19th century China, during the reign of Emperor Daoguang. Lily talks about her growing up during this time. The beginning she starts by saying she is a widow, 80 years old and in the "Sitting Quietly" part of her life.
The Chinese during this time was all about traditions. They live each day with a routine in every minute and hour of their life. Lily starts her story as a 6 year old child who must go thru the agonizing tradition of feet binding . From there she tells of learning nu-shu, meeting her Laotong, preparing and marrying her husband and goes on to tell about her life after marriage.
The author Lisa See states that after doing a review about Nu Shu, doing some research, chatting with a fan she decided she needed to go to Jianguong to further her research and to learn more. She did awesome in her book, describing the details of the Chinese history and the Nu Shu writing.

Like i said i'm not a writer and i wouldn't be able to write a review thats worthy of this book.

Review from Amazon:

Editorial Reviews
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. See's engrossing novel set in remote 19th-century China details the deeply affecting story of lifelong, intimate friends (laotong, or "old sames") Lily and Snow Flower, their imprisonment by rigid codes of conduct for women and their betrayal by pride and love. While granting immediacy to Lily's voice, See (Flower Net) adroitly transmits historical background in graceful prose. Her in-depth research into women's ceremonies and duties in China's rural interior brings fascinating revelations about arranged marriages, women's inferior status in both their natal and married homes, and the Confucian proverbs and myriad superstitions that informed daily life. Beginning with a detailed and heartbreaking description of Lily and her sisters' foot binding ("Only through pain will you have beauty. Only through suffering will you have peace"), the story widens to a vivid portrait of family and village life. Most impressive is See's incorporation of nu shu, a secret written phonetic code among women—here between Lily and Snow Flower—that dates back 1,000 years in the southwestern Hunan province ("My writing is soaked with the tears of my heart,/ An invisible rebellion that no man can see"). As both a suspenseful and poignant story and an absorbing historical chronicle, this novel has bestseller potential and should become a reading group favorite as well.

From Lisa See's website:

A language kept a secret for a thousand years forms the backdrop for an unforgettable novel of two Chinese women whose friendship and love sustains them through their lives.

This absorbing novel – with a storyline unlike anything Lisa See has written before – takes place in 19th century China when girls had their feet bound, then spent the rest of their lives in seclusion with only a single window from which to see. Illiterate and isolated, they were not expected to think, be creative, or have emotions. But in one remote county, women developed their own secret code, nu shu – "women's writing" – the only gender-based written language to have been found in the world. Some girls were paired as "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 windows to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments.

An old woman tells of her relationship with her "old-same," their arranged marriages, and the joys and tragedies of motherhood—until a terrible misunderstanding written on their secret fan threatens to tear them apart. With the detail and emotional resonance of Memoirs of a Geisha , Snow Flower and the Secret Fan delves into one of the most mysterious and treasured relationships of all time—female friendship.

Best regards,


Anonymous said...

I think you expressed yourself well. You make the book sound all the more interesting by being at a loss for the right words. I have been there. That makes a great book.

Anna said...

I've heard good things about this book, and I hope to read it at some point. I know how you feel about reading a really good book and not being able to put your thoughts into words.

Diary of an Eccentric

Sassy Brit said...

I think its a very good review. Well done. I like the way you explain that how the author came to write the book.

Thanks for sharing!


ANovelMenagerie said...

I loved this book. It's one of my all time favorites.