Recently I hosted a Laotong Night with my mother and nephew's wife to watch Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. Laotong, or "old sames" is a special type of relationship in the Chinese Hunan culture that bonded girls together for eternity as kindred sisters. Me, Nancy, and Yolanda watched the movie together and each of us received the novel of the same name.
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is about two “sworn sisters” from centuries ago who are isolated by their families, but stay connected through a secret language written in the folds of a white silk fan. Now in modern-day Shanghai, their descendents must draw inspiration from the past as they struggle to maintain their own eternal bond in the face of life’s complications. What unfolds are two stories, generations apart, but everlasting in their universal notion of love, hope and friendship.
After watching the movie with my mom and nephew's wife, we were desiring to read the book. Nancy and Yolanda are still reading it while I've finished the book myself. The movie follows the novel for the most part in its storyline. I found the novel to be more interesting and detailed in regards to the sworn sisters and the world of Chinese Hunan culture and traditions. The book follows two Laotong who are paired together by a matchmaker. They are meant to be "old sames" based on identical traits and sets of circumstances. It follows them as they grow through the years and write a secret language to each other on a fan. The book is terrifically written in such a way that it makes me feel like I could personally know each character. Even more interesting than the bond between the two Laotong was what I learned about Chinese Hunan culture. Foot binding, matchmaking, wedding rituals and other traditions were explained in such detail. I don't know a lot about any Chinese culture and it was very interesting to me to read in the book what the rituals and traditions were. For instance, daughters are worthless and foot binding at an early age is important for a proper marriage when grown up. I have and read a lot of books. Some I'd like to read again or keep due to its excellent writing. This is one of them.
The movie for Snow Flower and the Secret Fan stayed pretty consistent with the book. I do feel, however, that the book goes more in depth. The movie goes through the emotions and sequences without getting to know a lot about the characters. There is some English spoken in the movie, but a lot of it is Chinese with subtitles. In the movie, there are the modern day sworn sisters, Nina and Sophia, who have their own set of circumstances happen to them and the tale of the past day sworn sisters, Snow Flower and Lily. Both the past and present intermingle to show how both are a part of each other.
The Laotong Night I hosted was a pleasant night of spending time with two people I care a lot about and watching a movie about friendship and love.
I received DVD and books for review. The opinions within this post are of my own and I was not influenced in any way. Please do your own research before purchasing products. Your opinions and results may differ.