Monday, January 21, 2008

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan - Lisa See

snow flower and the secret fan
lisa see
c. 2006
288 pages

*may contain spoilers*

Another book read for the Expanding Horizons Challenge (see sidebar), this time, Asia. This is a story about two girls in rural China who are matched together as laotong, meaning 'old same.' Your laotong is another girl who you are bound to for life, someone to love and share life with, like a best friend. The book often compared the bond of laotong's to marriage. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan follows these girls through their lives in China from the time they are matched until death.

I both enjoyed and was disappointed in this book. This was a very quiet and gentle book; there was not a lot of conflicted action. Instead it just gently plodded along telling the very usual story of two Chinese girls. When there was conflict or struggle, such as the deaths of Third Sister and Beautiful Moon, it came on very suddenly and was very suddenly over and life continued to plod along.

This was also true of the main conflict of the story. The three main conflicts (the epidemic, the uprisings, and then the misunderstanding between Lily and Snow Flower) were all lumped together, happened one after the other, and then were so quickly over. We had spent almost three fourths of the book so slow and gentle, and then all of a sudden tragedy strikes and is over.

I was disappointed between the misunderstanding between Lily and Snow Flower. I had read the back of the book and knew that some kind of misunderstanding took place, and that that was supposed to be a central theme of the story, but like I said before it happened and was over so quickly. I had waited all through the book for something to happen, but then we seemed to so quickly gloss over it. Snow Flower said something to hurt Lily's feelings, Lily embarrassed Snow Flower in front of all the women of the town, and then it's eight years later.

Besides those disappointments, I greatly enjoyed the amount of detail that went into describing the day to day lives of Chinese women, as well as their festivals and ceremonies. These descriptions were very beautifully and vividly written. I just wish the same amount of depth went into the story as well.



Melissa said...

I liked this book, but I've read other reviews that have basically the same complaints as yours. I wonder if I just missed it, or if it didn't bother me that much. Interesting.

Amy said...

I read this book in 2007 and enjoyed it.

Becky said...

I may try to make time for this one. I've read many reviews. And I think you either love it or not. Anyway, thanks for the review.

Scribacchina said...

Thanks for the review. Despite your complaints, I'm still looking forward to it. Especially so as you also enjoyed it :)

softdrink said...

I loved this book, but, like Melissa, I have also read other reviews who feel like you do. I'm glad to didn't totally loathe it, though. ;-)

iggystar said...

I just finished this today and I can totally see where the complaint comes from, there were times the book in general seemed to skim over details, but overall I enjoyed it very much.

Amira said...

I think I might have liked the book partly because of the reasons you didn't like it. It seems that for most people that's the way life is- it plods along most of the time and then soemthing happens, and then it's over and life plods along again. I felt like the book was quite realistic.