My name is Lily. I came into this world on the fifth day of the six month of the third year of Emperor Daoguang’s reign. Puwei, my home village, is in Yongming County, the county of Everlasting Brightness. Most people who live here are descended from the Yao ethnic tribe. From the storytellers who visited Puwei when I was a girl, I learned that the Yao first arrived in this area twelve hundred years ago during the Tang dynasty, but most families came a century later, when they fled the Mongol armies who invaded the north. Although the people of our region have never been rich, we have rarely been so poor that women had to work in the fields. We were members of the Yi family line, one of the original Yao clans and the most common in the district. My father and uncle leased seven mou of land from a rich landowner who lived in the far west of the province. They cultivated that land with rice, cotton, taro, and kitchen crops. My family home was typical in the sense that it had two stories and faced south. A room upstairs was designated for women’s gathering and for unmarried girls to sleep. Rooms for each family unit and a special room for our animals flanked the downstairs main room, where baskets filled with eggs or oranges and strings of drying chilies hung from the central beam to keep them safe from mice, chickens, or a roaming pig. We had a table and stools against one wall. A hearth where Mama and Aunt did the cooking occupied a corner on the opposite wall. We did not have windows in our main room, so we kept open the door to the alley outside our house for light and air in the warm months. The rest of our rooms were small, our floor was hard-packed earth, and, as I said, our animals lived with us. I’ve never thought much about whether I was happy or if I had fun as a child. I was a so-so girl who lived with a so-so family in a so-so village. I didn’t know that there might be another way to live, and I didn’t worry about it either. But I remember the day I began to notice and think about what was around me. I had just turned five and felt as though I had crossed a big threshold. I woke up before dawn with something like a tickle in my brain. That bit of irritation made me alert to everything I saw and experienced that day. I lay between Elder Sister and Third Sister. I glanced across the room to my cousin’s bed. Beautiful Moon, who was my age, hadn’t woken up yet, so I stayed still, waiting for my sisters to stir. I faced Elder Sister, who was four years older than I. Although we slept in the same bed, I didn’t get to know her well until I had my feet bound and joined the women’s chamber myself.
Excerpted from Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See Copyright © 2005 by Lisa See. Excerpted by permission of Random House Trade Paperbacks, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
The inspiration for the film of the same name, See’s moving novel delves into one of the most mysterious of human relationships: female friendship. With the rich setting of 19th-century rural China as a backdrop, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan tells the story of two girls, Lily and Snow Flower, who are paired in an ancient ceremony more sacred than marriage.
Though separated by social standing and distance through their lifetimes, the two correspond in nu shu, a phonetic code that Chinese women created in order to communicate in secret. However, their friendship might not be able to withstand a simple misunderstanding that threatens to tear their bond apart. Poignant, suspenseful and revealing, this book is a marvel of imagination.
Softcover Book : 240 pages
Publisher: Random House Inc. ( June 28, 2005 )
Item #: 12-411956
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.25 x 0.61inches
Product Weight: 9.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
Anyone who has had a difficult and/or wonderful mother/daughter relationship should read this book. I cannot wait to read the authors other books. I am going to read Peony in Love next.
Reviewer: Jenny B
Having an immigrant father, born in the 1920's in Canton, China and whose own mother had been subjected to foot binding as a young child herself, I was thankful to learn more about the rationale and practice of footbinding. When I met my grandmother after my father was able to bring her to the U.S. after her escape from Communist China, her feet were deformed with her toes folded under her foot. As Lisa See describes in her book, this is just the first break in the process of foot binding. The next break would have been her instep resulting in the small feet that were indicative of a female who would make a good match for a man. My grandmother's instep was intact, however, because footbinding was discontinued in China before the second break at the instep occurred. But, her feet bore the marks of what Lisa See describes in this book. Lisa See has painted a most memorable picture of what it means to be be a Chinese woman.
Reviewer: Sharon N
Want to disappear into a story for awhile snuggled up to a fire in the fireplace...this is definitely the book to choose. You become immersed into the hearts, thoughts and actions of resourceful women striving to fit in and survive a culture and an oppressive historical time period.
Reviewer: J C
Enjoyed this book, opened up a different way of life, a different world. Kept your interest in wondering how it would end.
Reviewer: Jodi W
This was the most captivating book I've ever read. A truly exquisite book!!
Reviewer: Julie F