by Lisa See
Random House, 2005
Summary in a Sentence:
Friends Snow Flower and Lily find solace in their bond as they face isolation, arranged marriages, loss, and motherhood in nineteenth-century China.
I can't believe I waited so long to read this book. Shame on me. This book was wonderful, lyrical, entertaining - all the makings of a great novel. I was transported to 19th century China as I read the words of Lily and her experiences with footbinding, marriage, and her lifelong friendship (laotong) with Snow Flower. Chinese women in this period of China's history lived a rather secluded life, almost always separated from men. They even had their own written language, nu shu, which is spotlighted throughout the novel.
The aspect of the novel that most affected me were the detailed descriptions of the footbinding process that most Chinese girls endured in the early years of their lives. This process was incredibly painful and basically handicapped the women's physical movement for the rest of their lives.
Question for my readers: Did See's descriptions of footbinding remind you of any Western traditions -- crazy things we are willing to do in the name of beauty?
You might also like:
- The Binding Chair: or, A Visit from the Foot Emancipation Society by Kathryn Harrison
- Aching for Beauty: Footbinding in China by Ping Wang
- Cinderella's Sisters: a revisionist history of footbinding by Dorothy Ko
Other Reviews:(Apparently I'm the only person living who hasn't read this one! I'm just listing a few reviews here, because way too many people have read this for me to list everyone...)