Monday, March 30, 2009

My Weekly Book Pick

Lily is haunted by memories–of who she once was, and of a person, long gone, who defined her existence. She has nothing but time now, as she recounts the tale of Snow Flower, and asks the gods for forgiveness.

In nineteenth-century China, when wives and daughters were foot-bound and lived in almost total seclusion, the women in one remote Hunan county developed their own secret code for communication: nu shu (“women’s writing”). Some girls were paired with laotongs, “old sames,” in emotional matches that lasted throughout their lives. They painted letters on fans, embroidered messages on handkerchiefs, and composed stories, thereby reaching out of their isolation to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments.

With the arrival of a silk fan on which Snow Flower has composed for Lily a poem of introduction in nu shu, their friendship is sealed and they become “old sames” at the tender age of seven. As the years pass, through famine and rebellion, they reflect upon their arranged marriages, 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 lifelong friendship suddenly threatens to tear apart.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is a brilliantly realistic journey back to an era of Chinese history that is as deeply moving as it is sorrowful. With the period detail and deep resonance of Memoirs of a Geisha, this lyrical and emotionally charged novel delves into one of the most mysterious of human relationships: female friendship.

My Review:

I was intrigued by this as soon as I picked it up, I loved "Memoirs of a Geisha," by Arthur Golden, so I was hoping this would read similarly. Well, it did and it didn't. It was again focused on the story of one girl, but bringing out cultural nuances at the same time. I found this one struck home with me more than "Memoirs" did, and read slightly more story-like. The girls show what true friendship really is and form such a powerful and awe-inspiring bond despite their families financial differences and their distance from each other. It brought back powerful memories of my pen-pals from elementary school, and pleasant memories of girlhood friends. I thought it was a great book and well-written. Enjoy!

*Synopsis courtesy of


Kait T said...

I loved this book! I am really big into Asian reads (surprise surprise) but I think the biggest difference between this book and Memoirs of a Geisha is that one is this one is in China so I really couldn't relate while I could see exactly where Arthur Golden was talking about and where she was. Great read though.

Juli said...

This is such a good book, I loved it! I ended up getting her other one "Peony in Love" after reading this one and it is just as good. :)