Sunday, June 25, 2006

Pride and Prejudice and Romeo and Juliet and Lily and Snow Flower

I'm sipping some Adagio plum tea and contemplating how I feel about this book. The title of the blog entry says it all - except that it probably should say "Juliet and Juliet," since the eternal love in this book is between Lily and Snow Flower.

Why Pride and Prejudice? Because both ruled and warped the Chinese lives -- especially their inner lives. The historian and social observer in me recognizes that conditions in those times were difficult, sometimes brutal, and a more relaxed society might not have been able to dominate the elements or survived. Still. The physical and emotional claudrophobia that ruled the society were soul-deadening.

It occurs to me that the rigidity, ritual, and rigor of the lives of the Chinese women, and the rules that guarranteed men's absolute power over women, eliminated the possibility that men could be loved. They could be admired, they could be venerated, and they could be feared, but they could not be loved as human beings. Not one man in this book is loved. Boys are loved - but not even boys who might be less than strong and commanding. Much as I abhor and pity the lives of the women, I have to wonder how the men survived without any outlet whatsoever for their anima.

Some women found ways to love each other, although even those relationships were governed by commerce and their families' desire for status. The love of women, and the nu shu language women developed to express that love, were true miracles in that society. As always, I am awed by the strength and adaptability of women. Despite their differences, despite misunderstandings and secrets, Lily and Snow Flower were soulmates and sisters, made more beautiful and powerful by their love.

Lisa See has written an amazing book. That's all I can say. Amazing.

2 comments:

DianeM said...

Please please can I join! I have always wanted to be in a book group and don't have the time. I am a primary teacher and love reading and tea. Are they the only criteria?

Moon Rani said...

Dear Diane M.,
Please contact me at SilverMoonRani@yahoo.com about your request.
What a beautiful blog you have!