Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
I’m not totally sure that I should even bother reviewing this book, because it seems like a good 3/4 of the world has already read it, but I read it, so I’m going to share my opinion with you anyway!
For those behind on the times as I was, “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” is set in mid-19th century China. The main character, Lily, comes from a farming family but is recommended for a laotong relationship – essentially an emotional marriage between two women. This laotong relationship, with a more cultured girl from town, along with her perfect feet, has a positive influence on Lily’s prospects for marriage, allowing her to marry into a very well-off family and become Lady Lu. The primary story, however, is of the relationship between the laotongs Lily and Snow Flower.
Footbinding is a major part of this novel and is discussed very graphically. Very graphically. I honestly thought I was going to be sick during part of it, it is nearly as revolting as some of the discussions of burns in The Gargoyle, in my opinion. That being said, I very much enjoyed “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.’ I thought it was very well written and very well researched. I truly felt that I came away from the book both pleased with the story and having learned more about 19th century China.