Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan gets 4 Stars {adult lit, historical fiction}

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See gets 4 out of 5 stars in my book review.  19th century China, Historical Fiction. Foot Binding. Women treatment. Culture. Traditions. Friendship. Nu-Shu. adult literature. Full review on the blog. Alohamora Open a Book alohamoraopenabook

7 to 10 cm. 3-4 inches.  That is the ideal size foot for a woman back in the day in China; that's called a "Lotus."   Can you believe that?  Seriously, that is half of the length of a piece of paper.  For some, that is about the size of the palm of your hand.  Wow!  Just wow!  I can't imagine my feet being that small.  

"Tiny feet can improve social standing."  At least, according to the Matchmaker in 19th century China.  

Not only did the size of a Chinese woman's foot surprise and shock me, but I had to laugh at the mention of how horrible it was to a be a big footed woman b/c that is what I am.  I also cringed while reading the pain and the process of foot binding (they break the bones), and became grateful that I am not a woman in 19th century China. 

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See is an historical fiction set in a remote village in China during the 1800s.  This book is an enlightening and educational read as well as entertaining.  

I learned about the foot binding process and how it starts around 6 years old.  I learned that matchmakers have a lot of power in determining your social standing.  I learned what a "Nu-Shu" relationship is and how only the upper class usually do it.  I learned how painful and difficult it was to walk with tiny feet.  I learned that tiny feet, the result of foot-binding, is a sexual thing for your spouse.  I learned that a good foot binding can bring your from lower-middle class to upper class, and a bad foot binding or no binding can lead to a life of servitude.  I learned that as a woman your main goal was to birth sons and you were not respected by your in-laws, who you lived with, until you did so.  I learned that women in China, during this time, had little power or choices; it was hard to change or get out of an abusive situation.  I learned about the secret women's writing and the language they created.  I learned that relationships with women are tough whether with your family or friends.  Lily felt her mother's love when her mom slapped her, and the miscommunication Lily had with Snow Flower made their friendship difficult.  I learned a lot about 19th century China including the fact that I am grateful I don't live during that time. 

This book earned 4 out of 5 stars.  It's a good book that causes the reader to feel a myriad of emotions, but it is a little slow at first.  I was saddened with Lily's feelings about her family and the death's throughout the book.  I was happy that Lily was in a better situation, but my heart ached for Snow Flower and when they had to flee to the mountains.  

I truly learned a ton.  However, there is one scene between Lily and Snow Flower that felt highly inappropriate and could make the reader uncomfortable.  I wouldn't say this is a clean read b/c of that scene.  I believe that scene was to show how Lily and Snow Flower were, but I felt it was unnecessary as well.  To be honest, it didn't add anything to the story and made me uncomfortable.  Many people question if this is a lesbian story, and I wouldn't say it is.  I think it was just young girls trying something new and being naive.  Though, it definitely wasn't necessary and you could completely skip that part of the story.          

Happy 19th Century Chinese Historical Fiction reading! 

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
Rating: 4/5 stars
Best For: 18 and up, adult
Worth a Check Out: Yes.
Buy It or Not: No, unless you enjoy Asian Lit.
Read Aloud: No, but it would make a great book club choice.
Lesson Ideas: China 19th century, Foot- binding, Chinese culture and traditions, Nu-Shu, Marriage traditions, Chinese Festivals, Women's rights, Chinese women's written language

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