Color Style Kyle

Combining art, creativity, design, family, health, humor and books.

Reading Group Book Review: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Posted by Kyle Design on May 20, 2008

Foot Pattern Light Switch Plates in Nickel and WhiteOur recent book group selection was Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. Brushed Chrome and Aluminum Sewing Tape MeasuresI started out not liking the book much but by the end found myself enjoying it, and as a mark of a good book, find myself still thinking about it. It is an interesting look at the lives of women in mid 19th-century China, replete with foot binding, harsh mothers-in-law and a highly structured society that places a low value on women.

Some members of our group were bored by the first part and never finished the book, but in discussion we wondered if the monotony of this section was intentional by the author. Perhaps it was her way to hit home what it was truly like for these women who spent most of their lives in the upstairs women’s chamber, embroidering or sewing, with just a window to look out of. They seldom traveled, rarely even going outside.

One concept that struck us in book group is the idea of “sworn sisters”, a group of women with whom they make a pact to stay friends and support each other through their often hard and unhappy lives. Our book group has been going strong for over 7 years now and, in a way, we feel like a group of sworn sisters. Each book affects individual members in different ways, sparking strong emotions, bringing back memories, causing debate, relating to our own upbringings or families, so that we are revealing a part of our lives in each discussion.

There was a conflict in the book based upon a miscommunication. This caused a rift between Snow Flower and Lily and resulted in a showdown of sorts at a gathering. In an example of books paralleling life, our group faced our first conflict while reading this book when one member chose to invite someone new whose family were outspoken in their disregard for another member’s family. This threatened to disrupt the intimacy and sharing that goes on within our group, with one member feeling violated. It was quietly handled behind the scenes (not without a lot of drama), thereby avoiding a showdown at our meeting. Whew!Sworn Sisters Beaded ID Badge Lanyards A recommendation was made to the group to think about whom you’re inviting, whether there is any family history between two people and whether this new person would cause unwanted conflict.

Asian Fan Business Card Holder in GoldMinor Gripe: The inside cover of the book shows glossy color photo of an Asian fan with writing, but written straight up and down, rather than on the folds of the fan as described in the book. I wish the publisher would have shown a fan with actual nu shu writing with the accompanying designs at the top, whether an authentic one or a reproduction based on descriptions by those who made them, rather than this misleading image.

If you’d like to see more of my unique gift-giving ideas, please visit Unusual Asian Fan Gifts (like the business card case), Foot Gifts (like the light switch plate), Family and Sister Gifts (like the Beaded Necklace Lanyard) or Sewing and Embroidery Gifts (like the Tape Measure).

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