I was supposed to love this book! I was embarrassed that I hadn’t read it yet…
I did not love this book.
This story is about a girl, Lily, raised in China during the 19th century, who is pledged to be the “lautong” of a girl of higher social standing, Snow Flower. A lautong is a sort of soul sister, to whom a friendship is pledged that transcends any other commitment, including marriage, and is to last their entire lives. The story takes the reader through the girls’ very difficult lives together, as they experience the excruciating pain of foot-binding, the preparation of their dowries for marriage, and their experience as married women of differing statuses.
What I did not like about this book was that it was unrelentingly depressing. Just when you think it can’t get any sadder, worse tragedy strikes. There is a constantly nagging foreboding throughout the book which makes it just onerous to read. I also felt as though the main character, also the narrator, was not very likeable, which made it more of a chore to read about her plight.
I did appreciate learning about the Chinese customs and traditions that are described in the story. It was painful to learn about the nightmare of footbinding and how women were only valued based on the men they birthed. Girls are described as worthless and a burden on their families, when they were the ones to do all the work to maintain the households. The marital traditions are extremely colorful and interesting, however.
I know this is book is a favorite of many… but not mine.