Forecast: ‘Snow’ in September

see.jpgI’m always curious to learn what’s on the River City Books fiction book club reading list. The club, deftly moderated by longtime RCB employee Sue de Malignon, is always reading a book that, even if not necessarily the hottest seller on the shelf, is the kind of read you can sink your teeth into.

The current selection — The Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See — seems to follow suit. Amy Tan says “Snow Flower” is “a marvel of imagination … so mesmerizing the pages float away and the story remains clearly before us from beginning to end.” Tan’s a pretty credible source, of course, and while I have never personally seen pages float away, her endorsement carries a lot of weight.

If that’s not enough for you, here’s a more detailed description of “Snow Flower”:

In nineteenth-century China, in a remote Hunan county, a girl named Lily, at the tender age of seven, is paired with a laotong, “old same,” in an emotional match that will last a lifetime. The laotong, Snow Flower, introduces herself by sending Lily a silk fan on which she’s painted a poem in nu shu, a unique language that Chinese women created in order to communicate in secret, away from the influence of men.

As the years pass, Lily and Snow Flower send messages on fans, compose stories on handkerchiefs, reaching out of isolation to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments. Together, they endure the agony of foot-binding, and reflect upon their arranged marriages, shared loneliness, and the joys and tragedies of motherhood. The two find solace, developing a bond that keeps their spirits alive. But when a misunderstanding arises, their deep friendship suddenly threatens to tear apart.

Should make for a fascinating discussion during the next meeting, which will be Tuesday, Sept. 5, in the cozy downstairs basement at River City Books.

For more information about the book club, contact Sue at 507-646-7754 or sdemalig@acs.carleton.edu

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