Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

An enjoyable light read; the story of two laotong, or “old sames”, are friends for life. One (Lily) is on the way up out of poverty and one (Snow Flower) is on her way from fine living to being the wife of a butcher. A brutal look into the custom of foot-binding, where young girls are fed mung beans to soften their bones, then have their feet bound tighter and tighter wrapping the toes underneath the foot which ends up breaking the bones, then healing them into a curved shape which supposedly reminds their hubbies of their “member.”
The secret language of nu shu (merely italicized version of men’s written language) was used to send messages from woman to woman. This language was employed to write messages on the secret fan sent back and forth between the laotongs.
An interesting look into 19th century Chinese culture.