I started this book kind of lackadaisically. Then I reached the section where Lily's feet are bound, and I was hooked.
This peek into rural nineteenth century China is both fascinating and horrifying. Fascinating: the women-only written language nushu; socioeconomic relations (Lily marries up, Snow Flower marries down - their friendship is seriously strained); gender relations (imagine meeting your husband for the first time on your wedding day. Then conjugal visits a few times a year until you get pregnant - only then do you move in to stay - your "worth" is proven). Horrifying: foot-binding description; the winter hidden in the mountains, people dropping like flies; women="worthless branches" on the family tree.
I liked it much more than The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan - I don't do well with that much depressing stuff in one swoop. Conversely, Snow Flower contains much that is beautiful and joyous - the terror, sadness, and frustrated potential is almost balanced out. Almost, because it remains a very sad story. Two thumbs up, and much thanks to katezmom (aka Katie's mom, for recommending it!