Sunday, December 21, 2008

"Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" - Lisa See

I find the relationships between women much more interesting than the relationships between men and women. There is a plethora of viciousness that you do not find in a typical male/female break-up, and there is such a waste of anger and jealousy.

While the relationship between two Chinese women, Snow Flower and Lily, is interesting (bonded as "old-sames," which is more sacred than the bond of marriage), it is the historical aspects of this novel that intrigued me into avoiding my life for a rich six hours.

While, we all know about foot-binding, this book goes through the process with specific details. The idea of old-same relationships, as well as female groups formed based on age or status, is also fascinating. But it was the discovery of the only known female-created language, nu shu, that kept me enthralled. As a way to communicate, Snow Flower and Lily write in nu shu on a shared fan. This writing must be read carefully because of nuances, which causes the near-death of their old-same relationship.

I thought of all lost friends after reading this book, as well as the pettiness some women hold in their hearts. But I also thought about the connections between women that cause this new language to be born. It's simply a sweet tale, like deep fried taro.

4.5 out of 5.0 Candy Girls.


moonrat said...

I love this book. I think female friendship are such a rich and fascinating subject that they have been majorly under-treated in fiction--and too often reduced to a problem with a man. Lisa See didn't jump on that bandwagon here. She went into the complex levels of betrayal and misunderstanding we're all so capable of.

But good point re: Nushu. She struck up this compelling relationship while showing us two pieces of Chinese culture--the Yao ethnic group, and women's writing--that are rarely demonstrated in popular fiction (by Americans or in translation).

I've also read PEONY IN LOVE--actually I read it first--and it too was a lot of hard work, excellent research, and elegant storytelling.

Heather Wardell said...

I just picked this book up at and will get to it soon so I can comment too. So many books, so little time. :)

Kristin Dodge said...

Lisa See has found a new fan... I'll check out her other work, too. Her bibliography was amazing. Have you looked at her website? There is so much more detail, too, as well as the official recipe for deep fried sugared taro.

Kel-Bell said...

Hi all. I just found this blog. It looks great. I love book reviews by real people...especially those who like to read and write.

Right now Im reading a non fiction book by Gloria Feldt, and will write a reveiw on The Huffington Post in January.