SugarHouse Mama

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: A Novel by Lisa See

One of my favorite 'side effects' of the incurable love-of-reading-disease is that you come to know all sorts of seemingly random things. Even if all you ever read were well-written (it's sad that I feel I have to add that qualifier) novels, you would develop a deep well of knowledge. This is fact, I promise.

Snow Flow and the Secret Fan was, pretty much, my first exposure to early nineteenth century China. I was engrossed by the details of the culture, history, and daily life of women. I came to know and understand the culture and traditions on a much deeper level than I had previously been acquainted with.

It's a beautifully written and compelling story about friendships, art, love and regret, and, (oh what the heck), atonement. The narrator, eighty-year-old Lily, is finally ready to tell her story in the hopes that those she has known and loved who have gone before her will hear and understand her. And perhaps even forgive her.

I love the theme of language, specifically the written word, as a means of reconciliation - a facilitator of atonement. Even though it was the secret written language that caused misunderstandings and pain, Lily still reaches out to seek forgiveness through that same medium.

Perhaps it's a good caution to think about what you read: the difference between severing a relationship and healing one is slight.

1 comment:

Harward Family said...

I loved this book too! I thought it was written well.