I will admit immediately that this book really doesn’t connect well to lolita fashion. It’s a modern novel, written in 2005, and it takes place in China during the 1800s. There’s nothing resembling lolita fashion in any stretch, and the only focus on beauty is that of bound feet.
The first time I read this book was several years ago. It had just been published, and my Nana had read it for her book club. She was so enthralled by the tale of friendship and the “secret” world of women that she insisted I read it as well. At first, I worried I wouldn’t like it, but it is truly an engaging tale that was very hard to put down–even for a moment! Recently I decided to re-read it, as I had found myself musing over vaguely remembered details.
The story itself is the tale of friendship between two girls who grow up together in a long-term “emotional marriage” of friendship. As a foolish daydreamer, I found the idea of having an “old same” fascinating, likening it to my relationship with my best friend (as we became friends even earlier than did Lily and Snow Flower). It makes me wish that we had a secret messages passed back and forth–we could read through them an reminisce as old women.
Additionally, I find the concept of nu shu a fascinating one. To think that these women, cooped up in their homes with reshaped feet unsuitable for activity, taught themselves to read and write is amazing! They all lived hard lives, with more sorrow than happiness, and this gave them a way to reach out to other women who could offer support and had endured the same hardships. Considering how isolated they were often kept from families and friends, it seems almost unimaginable how tough it must have been for those who were not high-class enough to be literate in nu shu–how could they tell their mothers and sisters about their lives?
After turning the final page, I am hardly envious of these women’s lives. I appreciate the stories they have to tell, which is so different from that which I am used to hearing of or thinking about, but I feel lucky that my own life lacks those or similar hardships. It is a wonderful thing to live in a world where I can make my own choices, own my own property, obtain an education, and have many opportunities open to me.