Compulsive Overreader

Along with borderline hypergraffia, my other literary disorder is -- I'm a compulsive overreader. I'd like to say that I'm trying to get it under control, but I'm clearly not. Check out the archives here to find what I'm reading and what I think of it. If you came here directly through blogger --if your page has no yellow frames and no pretty pic of me in the top left corner -- you may want to visit my main site at, where you can read this blog and much much more.


I'm Trudy Morgan-Cole, a writer from St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada. My books include "The Violent Friendship of Esther Johnson," "Esther: A Story of Courage," and "Deborah and Barak." I'm also a married mom of two, a teacher in an adult-ed program, and a Christian of the Seventh-day Adventist kind. I blog about writing, reading, parenting, teaching, spirituality, and shiny things that catch my eye.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, by Lisa See

It's great when a book can transcend your pre-conceptions. I love historical fiction about woman, but if you had asked did I want to read a book about women's lives in nineteenth-century China, I would have said, "Probably not." However, I read a great review of this book by my online friend, writer Katrina Stonoff, so I decided to give it a try.

I'm glad I did, as Lisa See has done a wonderful job of evoking the lives of women who lived a completely restricted and enclosed existence. The story begins when the narrator, Lily, is almost old enough to have her feet bound -- and I can tell you that whatever you've heard about this practice in the past is nothing compared to the vivid description of a girl actually going through it. If you have a six-year-old daughter, as I do, it's almost painful to read this part of the novel, in which "mother love" is expressed through the brutal mutilation of her daughter's body.

Lily is not an entirely sympathetic or likable character, yet the reader is drawn into her mind and her world. The most important relationship of Lily's life is her arranged friendship with Snow Flower and their correspondence through nu shu, the secret writing taught only to women. Lily's choices have disastrous consequences for that friendship and for Snow Flower, yet we empathize with Lily as well as with Snow Flower, recognizing how limited women's choices were in that place and time. I highly recommend this compelling novel.


Blogger Mimi said...

I read it for book club, you are right, she isn't your typical heroine in a lot of ways.

What fascinated me was the description of the foot binding.

Great blog, do you have a RSS feed for it?

12:17 PM  

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