Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

579577

Status: Read from April 07 to 17, 2015
Format: Paperback (edit)
Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Author: Lisa See

A remarkable book with elaborate details of life of a girl born in nineteenth century China. This story is about a girl named Lily. She is a farmer’s daughter, who is just another expensive mouth to feed. But her life takes a turn when Madam Wang, the local match makers announces that Lily can change the fortune of her family by making a good marriage if her feet are bound properly. And for this, Madam Wang makes a laotong (the same old) named Snow flower for Lily. From here starts the intimate friendship between the two same olds, Lily and Snow flower. But there are secrets kept from Lily about Snow flower. Lily comes to know about Snow flower’s circumstances only after her marriage and feels betrayed by her mother and Snow flower for keeping the reality hidden from her for such a long time. But she forgives Snow flower. The story takes unexpected turn, when Lily interprets Snow flower’s nu shu message written in the fan wrongly. She feels betrayed yet again by Snow flower and emotionally shuts her off of their friendship for ever. Later when she come to know about Snow flower’s terminal illness, she goes to her and nurses her. But all in vain. After Snow flower’s death, Lily realises her mistake in interpreting the nu shu message wrongly. She feels guilty for the harsh feelings she had for her laotong and for the words she omitted about Snow flower on a particular day which she cannot take back now. But she tries to amend the damage by taking charge of Snow flower’s grand daughter so she would have a better future.

This is a well researched book with elaborate description of the foot binding and nu shu.
In nineteenth century China, a women’s eligibility was judged by the shape and size of her feet. The more small and lotus shaped feet, more good luck. The book describes the agony and pain the girls undergo during foot binding. 1 out of 10 even die in this process.
Nu shu is the secret writing of Women in China. Nu shu looks like mosquito legs or bird prints in dust. Nu shu characters are phonetic in nature. As a result, one character can represent every spoken word with that same sound. It can be used to write letters, songs, autobiographies, lessons on womanly duties or prayers to goddess.
The author gives an insight about the Chinese culture with detail description of festivals and customs. And their superstitious believes.

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