Publishing year: 2005
I started this book this afternoon and I’m already hooked.
Lily is an eighty-year-old Chinese widow, she’s the narrator as she tells us her story. This story takes place in the nineteenth century and Lily’s memories start when she’s five. We get to learn about the hierarchy in her household. Girls were only an instrument to make their parents better themselves through marriage. The most important people in Lily’s family are her father and her grandmother. Lily longs for love and wants to have her mother’s attention, but her mother’s interest is only in her elder brother, her father, and her grandmother.
When she and her cousin Beautiful Moon are six, it is time for their feet to be bound, and her mother and aunt call the diviner. When this man sees Lily, he thinks that there’s something different in her, and when he and the matchmaker come another day, the matchmaker says Lily is special, and she could have a very good match as her feet could become perfect. Both the matchmaker and the diviner think that she should have her feet bound within a year because Lily is small for her age, so it is agreed that Lily, her cousin, and her younger sister will have her bindings together.
A year later we witness the process of women having her feet bound. I was shocked!!! I didn’t know that was so horrible and cruel. A girl’s toes should be tied so that her toes and heels could meet in a circle, and these girls were forced to walk every day. My goodness!!! So painful. It’s difficult to judge these customs from my position, but I guess that these older women wanted the best for her daughters, which was a good marriage, so this is a sacrifice that they knew the girls had to make. Lily and Beautiful Moon put up with the pain the best they could, but Lily’s sister is truculent, screaming bloody murder, and who can blame her??? The end of this part is very sad as this little girl, Lily’s sister, gets an infection… I imagine it’s gangrene, and she ends up dying. My goodness!!! Dying that way!!! What a waste!!! How could mothers risk their daughters like that? I can’t believe that women didn’t love their daughters as Lily believes. Maybe women were considered a lesser category than men, but it’s hard for me to believe that a mother could disregard her daughters just because they were girls.
So interesting a book!!! Very sad and shocking, but fascinating!