Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Snow Flower and the Secret Friend

I've recently completed reading "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" by Lisa See. It is a book about a friendship between two girls, set in China in the late 1800's. The girls are laotong's, matched friends that last a lifetime.

I love reading, but I have this desire to discuss books I've read. The problem is I'm reading them myself. There is no one to discuss the books with, so I end up yakking to anyone who will hold still long enough to listen. Sometimes, they don't even have to listen. I just yak. I'm not proud, but I can't help myself.

So I'm going to try something new...sorta. I've already yakked off many ears for this book. But I thought maybe if I wrote it all out, I could get it out of my system.

This is your warning. Reading further is at your own risk. I'm sure I'll spoil something.

The main characters, Lily, had a deep desire to be loved. That desire was filled by her friend Snow Flower. The two girls went through many things together, including foot binding and getting married. Lily married up and Snow Flower married down - because her family had lost status. The girls shared their lives on a fan, writing in a secret women language called nu shu.

The first thing that I've been obsessed with is the idea of the mother-in-law. Status is everything and there is a definite pecking order to everything. The top women was the mother-in-law. All of them were stern, but some of them were cruel. There was absolutely nothing the daughters in law could do about it.

I enjoy my independence. So the thought of having to be told what to do - everything from who to associate with to how to raise kids - would simply drive me batty. I can't do anything but help thank God that I was born in the time I was. And I keep trying to place myself in that society. Would I still be the spunky me if I was born then? Or would I fit in a little better if I was raised in it...therefore not making me me. I suspect the latter.

I actually identify quite a bit with Lily.

Lily tried very hard to follow the rules, even when it was difficult. And it was her rule following ways the ultimately leads to her falling out with Snow Flower. I can identify that too. When friends are hurting and unhappy, it is in the deepest part of me to want to help them. It was this personality trait that led to their misunderstanding.

Snow Flower sent a note on the fan, saying that she wouldn't complain about her life anymore. She just means that Lily didn't need to worry (and therefore, offer the unwanted advice) anymore. Lily took it to mean that Snow Flower had betrayed their special friendship with other girls.

The book was good. The story was great. It was well written and I look forward to reading some of the other books by Lisa See.


Kelly G said...

I just checked out the book today, you wrote a great review and I can't wait to read it :)

Miriam said...

Aww you are sweet Kelly! I didn't even say half of what I was thinking. :) You'll have to let me know what you think though!