Friday, March 10, 2006
Must Read: Snow Flower & The Secret Fan by Lisa See
In a Nutshell: This book is at the heart of it about a friendship between two women. As these two girls grow up and get married to men in different classes their lives diverge. But, they keep in touch by using a fan with a secret "women's only" written language written on it to communicate. This secret language is the only gender-based written language to have been found in the world. It came about because the women in China were held under such repression that this was a natural way to communicate and have creative freedom with other women. Throughout this story is a tapestry of ancient Chinese culture of castes, foot binding and matchmaking rituals.
My Take: I enjoyed this book, but my friends have given me mixed reviews. A few people thought that it was a feeble attempt to be like Memoires of a Geisha. I did not agree. This book was very different. It is based on the only known secret female language created by women, for women, found in a certain region in China. Wrapped in this language is this story of two friends and how they communicate with their trial and tribulations throughout life in turn of the century China. And in many ways the foot binding process and the repression of women are very much aligned in meaning for these women in China. It is a great read.