I have a new-found love of historical fiction.  This book, set in mid 19th-century China, so brilliantly wove together elements of fictional relationships with real Chinese traditions and attitudes.  Through the lens of Lily, the book’s narrator and main character, we get a glimpse of what life was like for women living in China 150 years ago:  the pain and risk associated with footbinding, the rituals and duties of betrothal and marriage, and the never-ending list of  restrictions and expectations.  Totally fascinating, though completely tragic as you realize how heavily women were disrespected, devalued, and oppressed.

I loved getting together with my book club this morning and hearing everyone’s impressions of the book.  As we all sat around the table and enjoyed Congee (courtesy of Emily), I was incredibly grateful for the diversity of thoughts, cultures, and experiences present in that room.  We shared about how our familial and cultural roots have impacted our ability to express ourselves, how we still see women enduring pain and discomfort in the eternal pursuit of ‘true beauty’, and how difficult it would be to have to inflict pain on your child in the name of tradition.  Deep stuff.  Yet these moments of thoughtful reflection were intertwined with personal stories and loud bouts of laughter.  Two and a half hours has never flown by so quickly.  I have been so blessed by this group of ladies – I like to think of them as my own version of the Chinese ‘sworn sisterhood’…

One Comment

  1. brieanne says:

    Kelly, with your new found historical fiction love, I’d recommend the Josephine Bonaparte trilogy, based on real letters between Josephine and Napoleon. Here’s a link to the books: http://www.amazon.com/Josephine-Bonaparte-Collection-Sorrows-Passion/dp/0743246217