Aly (Fantasy4eva)'s Reviews > Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
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Nov 16, 11

Read on November 12, 2011

"A woman will never become valuable if she doesn't leave her village," Mama cried out. "Goodbye, Mama," I chanted back to her. "Thank you for raising a worthless daughter." "Goodbye daughter," Baba said softly.<--- Trust me, I totally LOLed :P

Rating: 3.5

SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN started pretty strong for me. Our protagonist is now a old lady. Reminiscing, tired and full of regret. It made me instantly weary. You see, anyone who is that guilty and ashamed can only mean one thing. You royally fucked up. And I, for one, wasn't sure if I was ready to read a book that was definitely going to make me hate the woman. But temped I was, as well as curious so I went for it. Good thing I did. I learned a thing or two about the culture, although you do get the feeling - definitely during the more intimate moments - that you're intruding.

As Lily takes us back to her younger years, we see an obedient and keen to please daughter who wants more than anything for her mother to love her. But it seems that her mother is just as determined to not do so. Don't feel too sorry for her, though. Let's just say that the girl knows how to hold a grudge. Furthermore, she will go through the excruciating process of footbinding where her feet will be shaped a certain way that is deemed beautiful. This is important since it is the gateway into marrying into a good home. On the flip-side it includes broken bones and results in difficulty in walking for the rest of your life. Some do not even live through it.

What is to really change the course of her life is the moment she is promised to Snow Flower. Another child her age. They are to be 'sames' an emotional bond that lasts forever. This bond, in particular, will run deeper than any other. This match also introduces the language 'nu shu'. A secret language known only among women - which I found absolutely fascinating. The two for many years will use it to write to one another and leave messages on a particular fan that they have held dear since childhood.

I have to say, the middle of the book I struggled with. I even contemplated leaving the book for a while and coming back to it another time. Yet I resisted and I'm glad. You know, many that these two girls hold dear pass away. Yet I never really mourned or felt their loss, and I'm not sure what to make of that. Our protagonist, Lily, is another to brood over. She will go through so much. But on the flip-side, it's what she goes through that will shape her into the wise women that is introduced to us in the first few pages. I guess the fact that she accepts her faults is a start, but it doesn't help lessen my frustration towards her throughout the book. She does some shitty things. Thing is? As her status grows, so does her ignorance, insensitivity and pride. And towards the end - no mater how much she regretted - I just didn't care for her by then. I didn't like her, but I did come to the conclusion that a part of me could respect her for all that she had endured and done in order to repent.

They lived in a time where everything is so male-dominated. Where their culture expects women to be quiet, polite and obedient to their men. Where bearing a son is of utmost importance and a daughter a curse. I mean, everything in centred around making the husband feel like a king, if not the husband then the father, if not the father then the son. The thing is that these girls are brought up with these values, so most don't even question them which is probably the sad part. But this is something that is a part of many cultures out there, that is still out there. It's not alien to me, in fact, it's something that my mother grew up with and something that I'm sure her mother grew up with. This circle, to be honest, has only broken with me. So yes, I'm aware of the implications of this way of thinking, and the way it affects you growing up with it. But interestingly enough - if you pay attention, some women do fight back in their own way in the novel. With their wit :)

I wasn't as emotionally invested as I would have liked to have been, and the book did go on the verge of boring halfway through, but overall I quite enjoyed it. What made it worthwhile overall was not only learning about their customs but the bitter-sweet friendship that Lilly and Snow Flower shared.
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Quotes Aly (Fantasy4eva) Liked

Lisa See
“For my entire life I longed for love. I knew it was not right for me — as a girl and later as a woman — to want or expect it, but I did, and this unjustified desire has been at the root of every problem I have experienced in my life.”
Lisa See, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

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
“I am old enough to know only too well my good and bad qualities, which were often one in the same.”
Lisa See, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
tags: life

Lisa See
“Obey, obey, obey, then do what you want.”
Lisa See, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

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 tortuous pain of the heart, mind, and soul. She was also pointing out my defects and teaching me how to use them to my benefit. In our country, we call this type of mother love teng ai. My son has told me that in men's writing it is composed of two characters. The first means pain; the second means love. That is a mother's love.”
Lisa See, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan


Reading Progress

11/12/2011 "Had my eye on this one for a while. Please feel free to blow me away :)"
11/12/2011 page 165
64.0% "Bed business, you say? LOl! I can be such a girl at times. But I can't help grinning every time I hear it xD"

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