Valerie J K's Reviews > Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
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Jan 27, 2012

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Read in January, 2012

This was a book club read--it reminded me of "The Good Earth" in several ways, especially the roles of men and women in China. The story tells of a young girl named Lily (born in China in 1823) and her sworn sister Snow Flower. They have a lifelong friendship and write to each other in a secret language on a fan. Although Lily comes from a less fortunate family, she is considered to have beautiful tiny feet and is matched with a properous husband. Snow Flower, who came from a prosperous family but loses everything, finds herself in a difficult position and stuggles through hardships in life. The story is one of friendship, love, envy, loyalty, relationships, expectations, gender roles, misunderstandings, and betrayal. This was the most descriptive book I've read on the tradition of foot binding, which involves breaking the bones of the toes as well as arches, with the goal of obtaining a 3" long foot. It seems cruel that mothers could do something so terrible to their own daughters, but it's hard to judge another time and place by today's standards, especially a time and place where women had no options. It also made me consider the procedures that women currently put themselves through voluntarily to obtain an artificial standard of "beauty"--cosmetic surgeries, implants, tattoos, etc. Overall a good book that makes me appreciate the time and place I was born and the choices and opportunities I have.
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