Book Review: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan Book to MovieTitle: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: A Novel written by Lisa See
Genre: Historical Fiction
Published by Random House
Page count: 283
Format: Ebook (read on Barnes and Nobles HD+)
Rating: 5/5
Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #38

Lily, the daughter of a poor farmer in rural China, is nearing the age when her feet will be bound, her bones broken per tradition. Her family hopes that her feet will be small, resembling a perfect golden lily procuring a good marriage into a good family matching their circumstance. When it’s Lily’s turn for the village Diviner to pick the perfect day in which to begin her footbinding process, the Diviner sees the potential for Lily’s feet to produce perfect golden lilies and upon being inspected by a renowned matchmaker from a nearby prosperous village, surprising plans for Lily’s future are put into motion.

Not only will Lily marry into the most prosperous family in that Village, the matchmaker advises that she eligible for a laotong relationship with Snow Flower; a girl of the same age, same spirit but different circumstances.  Accepting each other as laotong they begin a bond meant to be rooted in a love and companionship much deeper and much longer lasting than the marriage between a man and a woman. Throughout their childhood and preparation to become wives the two communicate in nu shu, the secret language of women that is written through the exchange of fans between the two girls in the laotong relationship. When Snow Flower and Lily are married off into their separate households, one has great fortune while the other experiences great hardship and keeping true to themselves…will their relationship stand the trials of marriage and duty, as well as the test of time?

This is a special review post because I read this book and then watched the movie for the 2013 Book to Movie Challenge. I am going to the review the book first and then review the movie.

I want to start off by saying that I absolutely loved, loved, loved this book. It is fiction but it reads like memoir since the story is told in Lily’s perspective.

The story itself is written so beautifully, it is one of those books where the words the author has written and the way the words are strung together is so beautiful and graceful…even when the subject is a harsh one. I love that the story was written so beautifully since what this book is about is women. Sure there are men throughout the book what it really is about is women…their work, their suffering, and their lives in China during this period in which women were not valued as much more than property.

I loved both Lily and Snow Flower as characters. I really liked their relationship…it was so complicated yet really simple at the same time. Sometimes they seemed the best of friends, twin sisters, and even sometimes they were as intimate as lovers. It was truly a beautiful friendship between two women in a period when women and their lives/futures were so controlled. They were rebellious in nature, these two, and sometimes stretched the lines of tradition, one more so than the other.

I loved this book because of everything it put me through. I was horrified one moment, happy, and then sad the next. It was a truly gripping story and just reminds you of the pain these women went through in order to be considered beautiful. Their bones were literally broken so that the curves of their feet looked like lilies and were really small. The smaller golden lilies were the most prized.

This book is just gorgeous and heartbreaking. I laughed and I cried. I couldn’t put this one down. If you’re a historical fiction fan or just looking for something beautiful to read…read this book!

Now for the movie! Since I loved the book so much I couldn’t wait to watch the movie so I finished the book last night and watching the movie firs thing this morning. Although I loved the movie as well, like most cases the book was so much better than the movie. The book just offers a whole different amount of depth and feeling to the story that I don’t feel the movie was able to capture.

The movie definitely has a different feel to it as it starts in the present day with two girls who modern young girls who have vowed to be laotong…once again they come from very different backgrounds. It tells the story not only of Snowflower and Lily but also of these two girls who have lost touch somewhere in the adult lives so it moves back and forth between present day China and the China of the nineteenth century.  As we are taken through Snowflower and Lily’s journey, so we are also taken through theirs. When one of them ends up in a devastating accident and is in a coma, the other girl finds a manuscript written by her laotong telling the story of Snowflower and Lily.

I felt like nu shu and the footbinding tradition were stressed throughout the book but not really so much so in the movie so the movie was definitely more Hollywood. I feel like the reading the book gave me a deeper meaning to the movie as well. The book is definitely more detailed and explains the laotong relationship and Chinese traditions more.

It was interesting in the movie to see the past influence the present and see some things in the past never change as we travel to the present. I also think it’s just always interesting to be able to glimpse a peak of the past and a different culture through books and movies. Overall though, it was a beautiful movie and an even more beautiful book so as always I recommend reading the book first! The movie leaves ALOT out so the book will fill in the blanks and is just so beautiful.

I want to leave you with two of my favorite quotes that will illustrate the beauty of the writing in this book. I hope you enjoy them!

“So here I am alone with my thoughts and this fan before me. When I pick it up, it’s strange how light it feels in my hands, for it records so much joy and so much grief. I open it quickly, and the sound each fold makes as it spreads reminds me of a fluttering heart. Memories tear across my eyes. These last forty years, I have read it so many times that it is memorized like a childhood song.”

“…I realized the true purpose of our secret writing. It was not to compose girlish notes to each other or even to introduce us to the women in our husband’s families. It was to give us a voice. Our nu shu was a means for our bound feet to carry us to each other, for our thoughts to fly across the fields…”

Book Review: The Vow by Kim & Krickett Carpenter with Dana Wilkerson

Title: The Vow written by Kim & Krickett Carpenter with Dana Wilkerson
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoire
Published by B&H Publishing Group
Page count: 183
Format: Ebook (read on Barnes and Nobles HD+)
Rating: 5/5 It was amazing!!!; Loved the movie as well!
Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #20

The book version of The Vow: Kim and Krickett meet by chance and begin a slow and steady long distance friendship that develops into a wonderful relationship as the two fall helplessly in love with each other. The two, are quite different but also very similar in things like their love of physical exercise and the love they have for God. Their faith in God ultimately pulls them together and with the approval of Krickett’s father, Kim proposes to Krickett and they get married. For most stories this is the beginning of Happily Ever After but after a terrible accident that leaves Krickett with short term memory loss and no memory of ever marrying Kim much less ever meeting him, the times of trial have only just begun.

The movie version of The Vow: Leo and Paige, newlyweds who fell in love at first sight, are in a terrible accident in which Paige is thrown from the car and her brain injuries result in short term memory loss. She cannot remember meeting or marrying Leo. Leo tries to make it work but is constantly at war with Paige’s parents (whom were formerly estranged from Paige before her accident) and with Paige’s unwillingness to try to remember her former life. After facing familial struggle and internal struggle for them both, Leo tries to win back Paige’s heart but with so much seemingly against them, will it work?

I must begin this by saying that I absolutely loved both the movie and the book versions of this story. I believe if you view the movie first and read the book, you may be a little disappointed as the book version is quite different from the movie since it is a nonfiction memoire but it can definitely be appreciated on its own.

Both versions are touching, heartbreaking and heartwarming. I feel that the book version though was obviously more personal and heart wrenching because it is told from Kim’s perspective and you can definitely feel the anguish that he felt throughout the whole ordeal and process of trying to make Krickett fall in love with him again. What really stood out for me about this book is how serious Kim took his vows to Krickett. I wish that everyone that decided to get married nowadays really put alot of thought into the words they say in their vows when they do get married. I don’t know if I’ve ever encountered a story where these vows of “in good times and in bad, through sickness and in health, richer or poorer, for all the days of my life” (although there are many variations) are so fully exemplified than in this story. Kim makes the conscious decision to stick by his wife even when it seems like there is no hope at all left…he remembers the woman he married and remembers the vow he made to her. That is so beautiful to me. Kim and Krickett’s love story is also a testament of their love story with God, which I thought was really interesting and amazing as well. Their love of God was one of the foundations of their marriage from the start and it is this that pulled both of them through the really really tough times when they thought they wouldn’t make it. I really think that newlyweds and even just married couples can learn something from reading this book together! It definitely reminds us of the importance of our marriage vows!

The movie is definitely alot more “Hollywood” and there is no mention of the religious inspiration and foundation of their love story, which is a message they really really wanted to get across when they wrote their book. It is a tear jerker! There are alot of different details about Kim and Kricketts story that have been changed in the movie version, which I guess is understandable for entertainment value. The movie does a good job of showing the strife the husband goes through when trying to win his wife’s love back and the hard time they had, albeit the book is obviously more personal and the times are much much harder. These two versions can definitely stand on their own but I would recommend reading the book and then watching the movie. All in all, I loved both!

Book Review: The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

Title: The Silver Linings Playbook written by Matthew Quick
Genre: Fiction
Published by Sarah Crichton books
Page count: 289
Format: Ebook (read on Barnes and Nobles HD+)
Rating: 4/5 – Loved this book!; loved the movie
Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #19

Pat People’s theory in life is that there is always a Silver Lining. He looks for Silver Linings in every situation and life just feels complete when he gets his glimpse of that Silver Lining.

When Pat’s mother shows up and saves him from the awful place he’s been living at against doctors orders, which just happens to be a mental health facility, Pat’s life is definitely starting to look up.

Obsessed with working out and becoming a kinder person, Pat hopes that his large strides in this things will help him to meet his ultimate goal (his #1 obsession), which is reconciling with his (ex)wife Nikki. Everything seems to be working against that goal and Pat cannot understand why, nor handle it and he holds on to the possibility of a Silver Lining to his story which comes to him in the form of Tiffany…a woman very much like himself: broken and vulnerable. Little does Pat know how much of a Silver Lining Tiffany actually is.

I didn’t love this book, but I did really like it. I think my mistake was building this book up so much in my head that my expectations of it were pretty unreal by the time I actually sat down to read it. But the good news is that I did end up really liking it. I think Pat as a character is really, really interesting and I like seeing the world through his very optimistic goggles. I felt really bad for him alot of the time because he just seems to have been dealt this really awful hand with his wife cheating on him and him having to walk in on them in their shower while their wedding song is playing. I think it’s understandable that he went as crazy as he did and beat the guy up. I don’t think him doing that warranted him to be placed in a mental institution but that’s just my opinion…I mean I probably would do the same thing. I also felt really bad for him that he’s always talking about his ex wife Nikki and just trying really hard to get towards the finish line where he just is so sure that she will be waiting for him with open arms ready to continue their life together…and I felt even worse that no one is honest with him about this. But I guess that’s why we have Tiffany in the story…to be the beautiful woman who is brutally honest and accepting of him.

I read this book and then watched the movie right after for the book to movie challenge. I have to say that this is one of those rare occasions where I enjoyed the movie far more than I enjoyed the book (although again I did actually like the book). I love loved loved the movie. It wasn’t just the fact that both actors are two of my favorites, I just think it worked a little better. If you have read this book and seen the book, how different did you think they were? I thought they were so so so different. It almost didn’t even seem like the same story, that’s how different I thought they were. I was really surprised at how different they were but then advertisements for the movie do say “based on the book”, so I shouldn’t have really been all that surprised.

They are both definitely charming stories, heartwarming and at times really funny stories. I would recommend experiencing both of them but just don’t try to compare them. One thing I was surprised about is that my husband really liked the movie! Read the book first! Sidenote: Jennifer Lawrence was phenomenal, enough said!