I remember a friend of mine raving about Snow Flower And The Secret Fan years ago, but I never read the book until just recently. “In nineteenth-century China, in a remote Hunan county, a girl named Lily, at the tender age of seven, is paired with a laotong, an ‘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’s written 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 the fan and compose stories on handkerchiefs, reaching out of isolation to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments. Together they endure the agony of footbinding and reflect upon their arranged marriages, their loneliness, and the joys and tragedies of motherhood. The two find solace in their friendship, developing a bond that keeps their spirits alive. But when a misunderstanding arises, their relationship suddenly threatens to tear apart.” I found this book interesting, but slow to get through. The author researched the time period extremely well and at the end, there is a description of her trip to China to do so, which I found almost as interesting as the book itself. The descriptions of footbinding were written in a way to show how awful it was, but it is definitely something worth knowing about. What was most interesting to me was the secret language and the customs of women that were described in the story. The friendships of the women in the story were born out of these traditions and it was most interesting to see the way that turned out in the end.
Have you read this book? I know it’s an older one!