Author: Lisa See
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Publication date: January 1st 2005
Age group: Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction
Cover rating: 3/5
Content rating: 5/5
Description via Goodreads:
In nineteenth-century China, in a remote Hunan county, a girl named Lily, at the tender age of seven, is paired with a laotong, old same, in an emotional match that will last a lifetime. The laotong, Snow Flower, introduces herself by sending Lily a silk fan on which she painted a poem in nu shu, a unique language that Chinese women created in order to communicate in secret, away from the influence of men. As the years pass, Lily and Snow Flower send messages on fans, compose stories on handkerchiefs, reaching out of isolation to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments. Together, they endure the agony of foot-binding, and reflect upon their arranged marriages, shared loneliness, and the joys and tragedies of motherhood. The two find solace, developing a bond that keeps their spirits alive. But when a misunderstanding arises, their deep friendship suddenly threatens to tear apart.
This book is set in China, during a time when a woman's worth is based solely on the size of her feet, which is determined by footbinding. If she has small feet, she will marry well. If the footbinding goes wrong, or doesn't happen at all, the girl will be subjected to a life of slavery. The process of footbinding was horrific, and I found it very difficult to read about. The story follows two girls- Lily and Snow Flower- who are bound to each other from the age of seven. We see them grow up together, and face all the challenges woman of that time faced. The women in this book had no freedom, and were seen as nothing more than a means of producing sons. At times, I found the culture hard to grasp, and found myself disliking a lot of the characters for the way they acted- but that was just the way it was. Overall, I found the book compelling, and extremely interesting.