This blog is dedicated to the amazing staff at the New Canaan Public Library in New Canaan, Connecticut.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snowflower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See, 2006, * * * *

In nineteenth-century China, in a remote Hunan county, a girl named Lily, at the tender age of seven, is paired with a laotong, or “old same., in an emotional match that will last a lifetime. The laotong, Snow Flower, introduces herself by sending Lily a silk fan on which she’ s painted a poem in nu shu, a unique language that dates back 1,000 years, that Chinese women created in order to communicate in secret, away from the influence of men. As the years pass, Lily and Snow Flower send messages on fans, compose stories on handkerchiefs, reaching out of isolation to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments. Together, they endure the agony of foot-binding, and reflect upon their arranged marriages, shared loneliness, and the joys and tragedies of motherhood. The two find solace, developing a bond that keeps their spirits alive. See's novel details Lily and Snow Flower’s imprisonment by rigid codes of conduct for women and their betrayal by pride and love. In the summer of 2006 I spent six weeks in Seattle on business and the venerable, independently owned Elliot Bay Books recommended this book to the entire City of Seattle.   It has since become a favorite book club selection.

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