Nichelle's Reviews > Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
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Mar 24, 08

bookshelves: book-club-books
Recommended to Nichelle by: Book club suggestion
Recommended for: Any home school mom/SAHM/WAHM, or history buff.
Read in February, 2008

** spoiler alert ** This is the first non-Christian, adult fiction book I have read in years. This book renewed my love for reading.

Although this novel was set in Ancient China, for me, themes resonated with current events in my life.

While I do have a car and can go out anytime I wish, I can also relate to the "upper room." I am a home school mom and spend most of my day in an "upper room" homeschooling my children. In the evenings, I am at my desk in the same "upper room" working from home as a medical transcriptionist. If I am not careful to remember to schedule a lunch date with a friend or hit up some new model homes I have not explored yet, I (and my many friends who are home school moms) relegate ourselves to the inner chambers of our home, yes, even in second millennial America!

Even as footbinding was a way of securing their daughter's futures, home schooling is also an effort to lift our children's minds above our country's mediocre emphasis on the education of our children. They broke their daughter's bones and bound their feet. We break off perceived negative cultural influences and bind our children's minds with classical literature, Latin, and logic.

As a bereaved mother myself, there were other parts of this book that touched me personally as well. "Mother love" is eternal and transcendent. It can be harsh, but it is also desperate. The ceremony that takes place before the daughters marry out where they cry and sing and thank their mothers for raising a "worthless daughter" is touching because they are honest that they really do not consider their daughters to be "worthless" despite of what society thinks of them. Losing a daughter to death, marriage, or any other circumstance is always heartrending.

Lily, in many ways, reminded me of a close relative of mine. One misunderstood statement can produce a VERY long grudge. She answers hurts that she cannot relate to with stereotypical platitudes, "Just try harder." On the other hand, like Lily, when she perceived a gap in Spring Moon's life after the death of her mother, she went into overdrive trying to fill it, probably confusing the girl's reluctance to marriage as simply grief over Snowflower's passing. This close relative and another friend in my life sometimes work so hard at "helping" that they cannot actually see the real pain and end up adding to it.

Lisa See is a fascinating story teller. Nothing in this book was predictable and it always kept me on the edge of my seat.
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Quotes Nichelle Liked

Lisa See
“When I knew I couldn't suffer another moment of pain, and tears fell on my bloody bindings, my mother spoke softly into my ear, encouraging me to go one more hour, one more day, one more week, reminding me of the rewards I would have if I carried on a little longer. In this way, she taught me how to endure — not just the physical trials of footbinding and childbearing but the more torturous pain of the heart, mind, and soul.”
Lisa See, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Lisa See
“Then it dawned on me that men throughout the country had to know about nu shu (women's written word). How could they not? They wore it on their embroidered shoes. They saw us weaving our messages into cloth. They heard us singing our songs and showing off our third-day wedding books. Men just considered our writing beneath them.

It is said men have the hearts of iron, while women are made of water. This comes through men's writing and women's writing. Men's writing has more than 50,000 characters, each uniquely different, each with deep meanings and nuances. Our women's writing has 600 characters, which we use phonetically, like babies to create about 10,000 words. Men's writing takes a lifetime to learn and understand. Women's writing is something we pick up as girls, and we rely on the context to coax meaning. Men write about the outer realm of literature, accounts, and crop yields; women write about the inner realm of children, daily chores, and emotions. The men in the Lu household were proud of their wives' fluency in nu shu and dexterity in embroidery, though these things had as much importance to survival as a pig's fart.”
Lisa See, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan


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