This book made me feel sick. The description of the foot binding. Ugh. It's sickening. Even worse than corsets.
I also found myself becoming frustrated with Lily's constant insistence that she was in the wrong in her actions toward Snow Flower. She was wrong at times, but Snow Flower was also wrong at times. Lily's action in The Letter of Vituperation may be been dreadful, but it was only the final cut in the severing of an already damaged friendship. Snow Flower lied about everything, then when Lily found out about Snow Flower's circumstances, Snow Flower justified her lies because she didn't want Lily to pity her, but if Lily had known about Snow Flower's troubles when they were children, then Lily would have grown used to the idea and been more able to comfort Snow Flower without showing pity. Snow Flower continued to lie to Lily even after they were married. She lied about her husband's abuse of her, her actions with her husband, and even about her health. Lily took refuge in convention whenever she became uncomfortable and didn't know how to act. If she had known the truth of Snow Flower's life when they were younger, she would have been more comfortable in her reactions to Snow Flowers troubles, but she spent years thinking that Snow Flower was rich and more eligible than herself, only to find out in a few moments how bad her friend actually had it. And I am frustrated at how Lily blamed herself for misinterpreting Snow Flower's words on the fan. Any person in the world would have looked at those words and believed what Lily believed. Because of Snow Flower's Dishonesty and Lily's ignorance in how to comfort Snow Flower without making Snow Flower feel she was being pitied, their friendship disintegrated.
This was a heartbreaking story about a friendship full of lies and misunderstandings. In many ways I hate reading stories about such damaged relationships because it's frustrating to watch the mistakes people make in relationships when you want to take them aside and tell them off for hurting their friend, but it also makes me think, and make me consider things I've done in my relationships with my friends that may have hurt them, that I didn't even realize. I wish the story would have had a happier end, but I also can't see how it could have done. There was just too much hurting on both Snow Flower and Lily's parts, for the story to come to a happy ending, though at least Snow Flower apologized to Lily before her death, and at least Lily made some reparation for her actions, to Snow Flower's son and granddaughter.