In 19th-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”). 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. 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.
©2005 Lisa See (P)2012 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
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"History lesson you want to attend."
As a general rule I hate history lessons. But the living care given to weave the story into the historical accuracy just drew me into this story. I loved the way we felt for each of the main characters as if they were our own sisters. Definitely makes me want to see if the film lives up to the book.
"Enter an oppressed world of supposed beauty"
Moving story and insights into of the hierarchy, paternalism and culture of foot-bound Yao women in 19th Century Hunan, China. We learn about the role of women in the women's areas, their toil and devotion to their families, their sisterhood and devotion to one another... Beautifully and movingly written but ultimately non-confrontational about a system of gendered violence that sacrifices the interests of women and girls. Amidst the violence a special bond between two women - "laotongs" "old sames"...
This fascinating story highlights the brutality not only of foot-binding but of unequal social structures, of war and its impact on communities, and on women's solidarity with one another. It draws attention to the development of a unique women's only language - nushu - a beautiful and delicate, but somewhat limited, script used to convey hardship, sorrow and solidarity between women.
Moving, sad, beautifully told.
"Girls' have it so easy today!!"
yes I would, I could imagine being there with the girls as they were growing up in their extremely narrow lives.
I didn't laugh or cry as much as wince when the author described in detail how the girls' feet were bound, and how this is crucial to the girls' and mothers' social standing.
A good listen. I looked forward to getting back into it each time I put it down.
"Incedibly moving story"
This book is beautifully written and read. It very moving story about a friendship between two girls - Snow Flower and Lily - in early to mid 19th century China. But it is more than that - it immerses you in their world so that you see how little love these "worthless" women were given by their own families, by their husbands and mothers-in-law, you see how hard their lives were and how friendships between women could make their lives more bearable. You care about the characters and their lives, you become emotionally attached to these women, their children and their families. I suspect that each time you read this book, you will pick up on details you missed the previous time.I have added this book to my list of books to re-read, as it moved me very much and made me cry.
It's difficult to pick out a favourite character as I am still pondering over the book, the storyline, the characters and events. I loved Lily, Snow Flower and Madam Wang, but was also fascinated by other characters such as The Butcher.
I really liked Janet Song's performance when she was reading the dialogue of Madam Wang - she really brought this character to life. Initially, I found Janet Song's reading style a little strange, but soon settled into the rhythms of her speech and by the end of the story I really enjoyed the way she read this story.
No, I wanted to savour the slow-pace of the story and the details of the characters' lives. But I also found the book hard to put down.
I have to confess that I cried at the end of this book. I cried for both Snow Flower and Lily, for the things they left unsaid and for their enduring love for each other. This is a beautiful book, and one that I will read again and again.
"Beautiful story and narration!"
A painful yet beautiful story of two friends throughout their lifetime. The perfect narrating voice.
"Wonderfully moving historic account."
I watched the film of the same name last weekend and was so enthralled by it I immediately searched for the audio book and was overjoyed to find it. I have not been disappointed but thrilled that it is different in perspective to the film, My daughter and I watched the film together and both commented on how the film flits from the past to the present constantly, and although this is interesting the past is the story we want more of and to my utter delight that is exactly what the book is. It is only set in the past and is a detailed account of the lives of the two main characters in the book and as such has answered my longing to know more of them, I will not outline the story or give any spoilers away, but just read it, please. It is probably if not definitely more of a woman's story, but it is also an account of historic China and the culture there in that period and is fascinating.
To summarize, it is a beautiful story of amazingly resilient people in a troubled but wondrous land. Just have your tissues handy!
"A very different world"
An interesting glimpse into the way Chinese Yao women used to live amid incredible restrictions on their lives. The ritual mutilation that was footbinding is described in detail (so this is not a book for the squeamish) and I found it incredible that the horror was willingly performed by women on their own daughters, and was perpetuated generation after generation, in much the same way as FGM still is today. While I enjoyed the story and the writing, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan did get me upset at the passivity of its protagonists. Lily is writing her story from a position of 'power' in her old age, but makes no attempt to improve the lives of the women to follow her. Instead, despite everything, she remains completely indoctrinated and only schemes to continue within the status quo. From my Western perspective, I found this hard to understand.
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