Heather's Reviews > Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
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's review
Mar 24, 2008

it was ok
Recommended to Heather by: Nancy
Recommended for: Adults
Read in April, 2008

I bristled with each reference to the insignificance of women and girls. I was on edge for most of the book. It is a tragic story of Lily and her "old same", a friend from another village matched to her by a matchmaker. They are supposed to be friends forever. They communicated with one another through a secret language known only to some women in China developed to keep their thoughts secret from men. They passed these messages via the fan. It has some pretty disturbing passages and there is a feeling of desperation felt by the women and girls. Some times I was amazed at the lack of outrage. They didn't know that they had worth though. I was sickened by the footbinding chapter. On the one hand, it's a gruesome, terrible, tortuous custom, but that's part of what makes it hard to look away. It's almost fascinating how terribly women in China were treated. I suspect that is changing in light of the shortage of women there, but I fear it's not changing quickly enough. What I enjoyed most was the acknowlegements at the end where the author described her trip to China. I felt a little overwhelmed by the things these girls were required to do such as make a lifetime's worth of clothing to take with them to their in-laws home. Of course, with their feet bound and the fact that they were relegated to an upper room for most of their lives, what else did they have to do? One thing I would like to know is how did they know their bodies and feet wouldn't change size by the time they were old (50 years old is old for them).
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Sara Register Heather, I just read Peony in Love and liked it so much better than Snow Flower. In Peony in Love, they talk about how they take care of their bound feet. I guess they almost always keep them bound, except when they clean and powder them each morning...and probably other times too, but we won't go into that. I imagine that keeping them continually bound would keep them the same size even when they grow older.

message 2: by Matt (new)

Matt Nicholas I haven't read the book yet, but coming from a mixed background (part Chinese) I think the book sounds right on the money. Even in China today, there may not be footbinding but many female babies are abandoned or given up by families searching for a boy. So the characters may go through some hardship but its probably not too far from the reality of the past. I am not sure if the book only deserves two stars because the subject matter is tough...it sounds very realistic and I'll have to put it on my booklist.

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