Book Review: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

My mom recommended this book to me last weekend when I was home for Mother's Day so I picked it up on Friday.  I devoured this one in two days.  It's about Lily and Snow Flower, best friends set up by a matchmaker in 19th Century China.   Eastern historical fiction is one of my favorite genres because it is so exotic to me coming from a Western background.

See describes the lives of women in a time when having a daughter instead of a son was a curse.  Women were basically tenants in their family (or natal) homes until they were married off to another family, where they would be little more than a servant to their mothers-in-law and the men in the family.  A woman who never had a son would always be the lowest ranked person in a household, and domestic violence was a regular occurrence. 

See blends her research on the time period expertly with the story of a friendship that takes place for the most part long distance in the form of letters written in nu shu, a secret language for women.  The process of foot binding is also described in detail.  Women tried to reach the perfect foot length, 3 inches, in an excruciating process that involved wrapping feet in such a way that they would break and heal in the shape of a lotus flower.

I highly recommend this novel, especially to fans of Amy Tan and Arthur Golden.


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