I actually wavered between giving this book a rating of 3 or 4 stars. This is not because Lisa See was unable to portray the life in this feudal Chinese society well, because much of this was vivid and interesting. The oppression of women, including the horrors of footbinding, isolation and servitude to men and one's in-laws were all clearly and often dismayingly illustrated.
One problem with this novel is how much better the tale could have been related if written in the third person, rather than the use of Lily as narrator. After learning throughout this book that she was a sensitive, caring, pledged lifelong friend; she becomes a cruel,selfish and judgemental harridan to Snow Flower. These very factors were so antithetical to what was supposed to have been developed between these two women and what they had always professed would be their relationship, that it was difficult to continue the reading with the same attitude of enjoyment and appreciation. I often found that See did not work hard enough to develop either her plot lines or her characters. She often glossed over some segments, seemingly in order to reach her next period of time.
Despite these criticisms, I found this book often compelling with a level of anticipation for the reader.