Snow Flower and the Secret Fan – Lisa See

 

This has got to be one of the most beautiful, yet heartbreaking books that I have ever read. The subject matter is horrific but the story is truly engaging.

The main storyline in this book is about the horrible patriarchal practise, foot-binding, that took place in China in the past. The graphic descriptions in this book are certain to turn anyone’s stomach. I would like to know who decided that 7 centimetre-long feet were “sexy.” The obsession with feet truly perplexed me; how could young girls know nothing about their future betrothed husbands except what size their feet were? Obviously foot-binding was a practice to control women, and it’s tragic that the women at the time were so indoctrinated that they believed that tiny feet were desirable.

Also, it’s so sad how culturally women were undervalued in Chinese society. They suffered so much abuse and, from a very young age, they were cultivated for marriage because, after all, all women were good for was for giving birth to sons. Everything they did was to prepare them for marriage yet when they eventually married their in-laws weren’t even satisfied and everyone was miserable. What’s the point? Excuse my sarcastic tone but I cannot wrap my head around how awful this part of Chinese history is. Instead of protecting women in society, women were made to feel worthless and their lives are also put into peril. It was truly heartbreaking.

Lisa See brilliantly captured the reality of Chinese life in the past. I also thought that part of the book about the laotang (sworn sisters) and sisterhood was lovely, as well as the parts about the secret writing, and the art of storytelling.

Definitely a great book but not one that I’d ever read again, it’s too distressing.

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