Release Date: June 28, 2005
Source: Download Destination
Genre: Historical Fiction
Review Date: March 6, 2012
Rating: 4 bookmarks
While this book was a work of fiction, it was very informative at the same time. This is the story of Lily and Snow Flower told from Lily’s point of view as a now old woman. They were both young girls growing up in 19th century China. In a world where girls and women are weak, worthless, useless and their primary goal in life is to have small bound feet to draw wealthier husbands and influential families. The birth of sons is their way to worthiness. Small feet and lots of sons are the way to a better life. Throughout the book we hear over and over, as you are a girl you obey your father, when you are a married, you obey your husband, and as a widow, you obey your son. Because the world is ruled by men, the women created their own women’s language called Nu Shu. Lily and Snow Flower write to each other using this language on a fan that they pass back and forth. This fan was Snow Flowers first gift to Lily when they became “old sames”, called loatong. In this day having a loatong was rare and this friendship is a lifelong commitment which begins as a contract between two young girls. They will basically be there for each other through all phases of life. Lily and Snow Flower both come from unfortunate circumstances, yet still very different worlds. Lily, always being pretty poor, was excited and honored to have such a girl as Snow Flyer be her old same being that Lily thought Snow Flower to be above her. Snow Flower had more than her. She had Snow Flower to teach her all the etiquette and refined things she did now know coming from a farming family. Yet, on the other side, Snow Flower, had her own secrets which kept her from really allowing Lily to know all of herself. Snow Flower had her own hopes as to what a loatong match with Lily would do for her life.
As they grew, they went through their bindings together, their weddings together, their first children together. While these things they did happily as loatongs, Lily married up, due to her perfect feet. Her in-laws are educated and well off. While Snow Flower, due to her families demise, married down. She had to marry a butcher. Which in their society is the lowest of low. Not only did she have to become a butcher’s wife, she was also abused in her in-laws home. While Lily had four healthy kids, of which 3 were boys, Snow Flower had several miscarriages and a still born baby. Of which, she mostly conceived girls, which is a shame in their world. Luckily Snow Flower did have 2 sons, which one died. While it seems that Lily did get the better situation in the end, she did have a lot of hardships in the beginning that effected her decisions all through life. Her lack of love from her mother, despite the “mother love” she was given, which means both “pain” and “love”. Her whole life, Lily wanted to be loved. I believe she got this from Snow Flower, unfortunately, Lily was never secure in that knowledge
As adults, these two women so close at one point, grew far apart. They had different lives which were so far removed from each other. This effected their friendship over all and not in a good way. Eventually Snow Flower succumbs to an awful cancer, one that really explains a lot about her attempts to have more children. In the end, the resolution is sad, but I am satisfied that the two women made peace despite all of the hardships they faced as loatongs.
This book was well written. The story was very vivid, with lots of detail. I could visualize the places and things described very easily. The story was pretty fast paced as well. The story is multifaceted and has a lot of different things to mull over, more that I’ve covered in this short review. I felt for these two girls turned women, but in the end all of what they endured was a direct result of the world they lived in. Sad and unfortunately, but it is what it is.