A big thanks to Books. Lists. Life. for sending Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See to me.
How to start this review. This book was completely touching and a bit heart rendering. Bittersweet. I liked it.
The story is narrated by Lily, an old lady looking back on her life in 19th Century rural China. And while Lily had other relationships, this book is about her relationship with Snow Flower, her laotong or "old sames". It's basically an arranged friendship...more than a best friend. A laotong is supposed to know you more than your husband or family knows you. And the relationship will last a lifetime. And while they are often together in the story, when they are apart they communicate through a secret form of women's writing called nu shu. They record in nu shu their lives most important moments on a fan which they treasure.
So the book follows the girls through footbinding (an intense section of the book which often made me queasy), arranged marriages, births, deaths, and just life. So while the book is a great picture into 19th Century China...it's really about relationships. And those inevitable regrets that some women often find having looked back on a lifetime.
Lisa See's writing really is beautiful and her research amazing. I loved reading the back portion of the book about her travels to rural China, meeting one of the last women who went through footbinding and wrote in nu shu. Lisa See's newer book, Peony in Love is about Lily's grandaughter Peony. I'm going to have to check that out soon.
And because I love book covers and these are so beautiful:
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