Tag Archives: Lisa See

‘Snow Flower and the Secret Fan’ Movie Review

4 May

Movie poster via IMP Awards

I wouldn’t have known to look for a movie of this book if it hadn’t been brought up when I went to hear Lisa See speak. She mentioned Hugh Jackman’s singing scene so I was ready for something completely different from the book I read. I enjoyed the movie despite its obvious differences but I’m still going to the old adage that the book was way better and had a lot more depth to it that the movie lacked. The story-within-a-story premise was nice but detracted from the historical story.

Things I Thought Were Awesome

Using the same actresses for past and present. I’ll be honest and say I didn’t notice it right away. It took me about twenty minutes from when the combined narrative started to recognize Snow Flower as Sophia. The makeup for Nina/Lilly was really good and I didn’t see it right away. I thought it was really cool to see the projection of Sophia and Nina’s relationship into Snow Flower and Lilly’s story.

Changes That Didn’t Really Bother Me

Minimizing the time on the mountain. This time was a bit overextended in my mind. The book spent a lot of time on it because the Sworn Sisters became a big part of the story and this is where we met them. Her son’s death was the most significant thing that happened during this period but without the background of the second son being so favored in Snow Flower’s family. I understand See wanted to bring historical events into the book, but it didn’t move the plot along as much as I would have liked.

Cover image via Goodreads

Things That Were Taken Out and I’m Still Wondering Why

The extent of Snow Flower’s family loss. She says her father is an opium addict but doesn’t talk about the losses her family suffered because of this. She doesn’t express her shame as deeply as she had in the book and feel the loss of her mother as profoundly.

Auntie Wang. There’s a parallel aunt character in the modern setting, so why was it glossed over that Madam Wang was Snow Flower’s aunt? It seems this might be something that was removed late in the game because it was really well set up.

Things That Changed Too Much

Mother-daughter relationships. The book focused a lot on ‘mother love’ and how a mother shows love for her daughters by binding their feet and how much both girls loved their children. We get a taste of this with Lilly during the plague, but it’s a lot less than we get in the book. The strained relationship between mothers and daughters was really sad to me in the book and I wish it had made the movie.

The bath house. I was confused why this was brought in. Sophia missed her father so she dressed as a man to visit his bathhouse and hid family heirlooms there? It’s a stretch to think she could make it into the locker room! I wish this had been taken out, it was really contrived and I didn’t think it added anything to the movie.

The wedding scene. When Snow Flower comes to her cousin’s wedding and runs into Lilly, it was one of the most emotional scenes in the book. Snow Flower tells Lilly how lost and abandoned she feels and Lilly retorts about how Snow Flower broke a promise. It was stressed that Snow Flower comes with Madam Wang and not her Sworn Sisters, yet the movie has her show up with the women. It glossed over a moment I felt was really pivitol in the book and it upset me.

The movie tried to add a lot in a place I didn’t think it needed to. I wish they’d stuck to the historical plot line without trying to make it more relatable. Reader, have you see the Snow Flower and the Secret Fan movie? What did you think?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Challenge Update, April 2017

2 May

April was a good recovery after a rough March. I’m proud of what I finished but I think I could have gotten a little more done. I’d like to think I’ll get more read in May but I’m taking an online class so probably not. You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page.

Books finished in April:

Loteria // Mario Alberto Zambrano (4/5)
Once in a Great City // David Maraniss (4/5)
Library of Souls // Ransom Riggs (2/5)
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan // Lisa See (4/5)

My current physical read is slowing me down a lot. Three of these are audiobooks! I hope to power through it but we’ll see how that goes. I’m almost 200 pages in and finding it hard to be engrossed.

When Are You Reading? Challenge

8/12
I filled in two more! This is looking great. I do tend to struggle with the centuries I have left so I might have to focus over the summer to get some targeted books in. I’m feel good about this one, though. I think ‘The Future’ should be an easy one to fill in.

Goodreads Challenge

18/50
I’m somehow still ahead of schedule here. Phew! I’ll try to keep this pace up through the summer. With how long my coach has me running, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. This weekend I got 2.5 hours in with workouts alone!

Cover image via Goodreads

Book of the Month

It’s close, but I’m giving this to Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. The book will stay with me for a while. The female friendship in the story was amazing and I wish I had something like that with someone. The foot binding was really emotional, too. Overall, it was really well written and I look forward to reading more by See.

Added to my TBR

Just one more this month. I’m doing good at not adding a lot and knocking some out along the way!

  • Powering Up by Anne Doyle. I heard Anne speak at a women’s conference and she gave out copies of her book. Don’t mind if I do!

Personal Challenge

I mentioned in my challenge announcement post that I had some non-reading goals set for myself in 2017. I figured this would be a good place to keep myself accountable to those as well. Here goes!

  • Keep my 4.0 GPA: Achieved! Well, at least for the Winter semester. I’m starting a summer class next week so I’ll be back at it again and will let you know in July how it went.
  • Knit blankets:  I’ve got to make a boy blanket soon. I’m catching up on a year-long project before I dive into that but I have the yarn to start knitting soon. I’ve just got to pick out a new pattern.
  • One race per month: I finished my first 8K in April. I don’t see a lot of races at this distance, most go with a standard 5 miles (8K is 4.97 miles). The course was about 5.2 miles per my phone GPS so I’m thinking of my pace in a much more favorable light than the records show!
  • Get my novel out to beta readers: That’s the plan for this week! Hubby is on a work trip and I’m here editing. I got great feedback from one beta and some partial notes from others that I’ll start working on. I’ll get back to it in June when my summer class is over.

How were your challenges? I hope you made it. If you love historical fiction, give some thought to my challenge for 2017, it’s fun!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Review: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (4/5)

27 Apr

At my former job, a coworker of mine was floored that I’d never read this book. I found a copy at a used book sale and it sat on my shelf for a few years. Then I heard that Lisa See was coming to town for a signing! I read her other book, Shanghai Girls, and got a copy of this one signed. I grabbed the audiobook before I had time to pick up the physical one and I wish I’d grabbed it sooner. This was a great story.

Cover image via Goodreads

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

Other books by Lisa See reviewed on this blog:

Shanghai Girls (with two book club reflections and meeting the author)

Summary from Goodreads:

In nineteenth-century China, in a remote Hunan county, a girl named Lily, at the tender age of seven, is paired with a laotong, “old same,” in an emotional match that will last a lifetime. The laotong, Snow Flower, introduces herself by sending Lily a silk fan on which she’s painted a poem in nu shu, a unique language that Chinese women created in order to communicate in secret, away from the influence of men.

As the years pass, Lily and Snow Flower send messages on fans, compose stories on handkerchiefs, reaching out of isolation to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments. Together, they endure the agony of foot-binding, and reflect upon their arranged marriages, shared loneliness, and the joys and tragedies of motherhood. The two find solace, developing a bond that keeps their spirits alive. But when a misunderstanding arises, their deep friendship suddenly threatens to tear.

However See did her research for this book, she did it right. It was very easy to picture life in early 1800s China. Their culture, so different from mine, seemed natural after listening to the book for a little while. The foot binding scene caused me to gag in the middle of a run. My husband had to stop and ask me if I was okay. It was so vivid that it was terrifying. The time in the mountains was frighteningly vivid, too. There were a lot of good moments in this book that go back to how talented a writer See is.

I think the mark of good writing is seeing a story through one character’s point of view and not realizing how slanted or biased that view is until it’s pointed out. See did a great job of this. Lily’s views seemed natural to me as the reader and I never questioned her interpretation or views until Snow Flower or the Sworn Sisters pointed out how she was wrong. Lily was more complicated than she at first appeared and Snow Flower’s many layers are evident in the story. Both are wonderful characters.

I liked Snow Flower best because she was easier to analyze and feel sympathy for in the book. When Lily’s flaws were pointed out, I almost took it personally because I felt I knew was her. Snow Flower’s bad fate and hardships were sympathetic and I could see her struggles and feel for her.

I’m very much like Lily. When things are going badly, I persist. I tend to think that something that’s gone wrong must be because I didn’t follow a rule or instruction and I try to get others to conform to this as well. I’m not a great listener much of the time and Snow Flower and Lily’s adult relationship reminded me of many of my own.

Lisa See and me

The months in the mountains were very emotional in my mind. I felt bad for Snow Flower and Lily and got a sense of the desperate situation they were in from See’s writing. Snow Flower’s mother-in-law was quite wicked and the preference given to her second son was really shocking. Snow Flower’s husband confused me because he seemed angry and soft moments apart but that could easily stem from the difficult situation he was in up in the mountains.

Spoiler alert! Skip this paragraph to avoid it. Lily’s realization that Snow Flower had not abandoned her after Snow Flower’s death was almost impossible to listen to. It was so heartbreaking to hear the Sworn Sisters be so cruel to Lily and to hear about Snow Flower’s suffering for the many years they were apart. Lily’s realization that she’d never apologized to Snow Flower was crushing! It was a really sad end to a story that was very sad and while it was fitting, it didn’t make it easy to get through!

Janet Song narrated the audiobook I listened to and I thought she did a great job. She used voices for the characters that were just different enough to tell them apart without any sounding like a mockery. I thought her pacing and intonation were good and it was to a point where I didn’t notice her, which to me means she’s doing a great job.

Lily wanted forgiveness and had trouble giving it herself. The message I got from this book was that friends can be closer than blood but we have to work on those relationships as much as we work on marriages and family relationships. There was a communication breakdown between Snow Flower and Lily that neither was able to correct and it created a rift between them that was never healed. They both needed forgiveness and neither was forthcoming with it. In the end, it poisoned their beautiful friendship.

Writer’s Takeaway: I believe the best historical fiction is when you don’t even realize that it’s historical. The setting felt so natural that I would forget this was 1850s China. It can be really hard to work historical context into a story in a way that will not shock the reader and See did an amazing job with this.

A great book that I’m glad I finally read. Four out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
Book Review: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (Audiobook) | Stargazerpuj’s Book Blog
Review: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See | lisasliterarylife

WWW Wednesday, 26-April-2017

26 Apr

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Currently reading: I’m getting so close to the end of The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler! I had to wait 40 minutes to see the eye doctor last Thursday and I got completely sucked in. Without studying to do during my lunch breaks, I think I’ll finish this one very soon!
A Son of the Circus by John Irving is not really picking up. I really hoped it would, but I’m plodding along still. With a week I’ll be without my husband, maybe I’ll find some time?
I started Terra Incognita by Ruth Downie on Saturday. Time will tell how well I remember the plot of the first one I really think it’s been maybe ten years since I read it because I’m thinking it was in high school!

Recently finished: I finished Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See on Friday while driving around for work. I thought the ending was really well done. I got to listen to the end of the story in pretty rapid succession over the last few days which was a really great experience. I adore getting to binge on books, especially ones that are this moving. The story was beautiful and I understand there’s a movie I can watch soon! It will be fun to compare them. When I heard See speak, she said it was very different from the book! I was sad to realize this book wouldn’t count for a new time period in the When Are You Reading? Challenge, but it’s a very new time and culture for me! My review will be up tomorrow so please check that out!

Reading Next: My plan is still The Circle by Dave Eggers. I may have to find an ebook before I get to that, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. I’m getting more and more excited for this book each week when you all tell me how excited you are as well, haha.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 19-April-2017

19 Apr

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Currently reading: I didn’t have a chapter to read for school this week so I got through some of The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler during my lunch breaks. The plot is really picking up and I’m considering devoting myself to this one when In finish Circus.
A Son of the Circus by John Irving is still a slow go. I’m not completely surprised, but I wish there as a bit more keeping me engaged by now. I’m about 100 pages in and it’s still dragging a bit.
I’m in love with Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. I really hope to put this on my ‘finished’ list next week because I’m listening to it at every opportunity and loving the story. I heard See say that there’s a movie based on the plot that doesn’t follow much at all but I’m curious to see it still.

Recently finished: After such a great showing last week, I’m empty this week! I hope to have Snow Flower here next week. Boo.

Reading Next:  Terra Incognita by Ruth Downie is still next for audiobooks. I’ll pick it up as soon as Snow Flower is over.
For physical books, I’m going to pick up The Circle by Dave Eggers. I’ve been seeing all of the trailers for the movie and my love for Emma Watson is running over now that it’s combined with Eggers. I have yet to read a book of his I didn’t love.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 12-April-2017

12 Apr

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Currently reading: I was an hour early for a conference on Friday so I spent the time reading The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler at Starbucks. I got through a few chapters and I’m about halfway through the book now. Slow and steady but really enjoying this one.
A Son of the Circus has been a slow start. I’m hoping it picks up because this brick is over 600 pages long! I love Irving but this is very different from his earlier books. I hope I can still enjoy it.
I started listening to Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See on Saturday for a two-hour workout so I made great progress in it already. It’s not too long so I’m hoping I can get through this one quickly.

Recently finished: I finally finished Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs! Hubby and I split up to finish it and I came through on Friday, him on Saturday. My review of it went up yesterday and I warn you, it is not glowing. I gave it 2 out of 5 Stars. We watched the movie as well and I’ll post about that tomorrow.
I also got through Once In a Great City by David Maraniss. This was really fun to listen to and for anyone based in Detroit, I think it’s worth reading. It gives a great image of what our city was and what it could be again. I gave it 4 out of 5 Stars. I’ll be posting about this book again as Maraniss visits Detroit to talk about the book.

Reading Next: I think I’ll need another audiobook next, which seems crazy after finishing two this week! Next on my list is Terra Incognita by Ruth Downie. It’s been years since I read the first in this series so I may have to read some summaries to refresh myself. The subsequent books are also available on audio so I hope to move through some of them soon.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 5-April-2017

5 Apr

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Currently reading: My husband and I made some major progress on Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs this weekend! We have about 2:30 left on it and we might just finish it separately because we don’t have another road trip coming up soon. Yay for progress!
I read a few pages of The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler when I forgot my textbook for lunch reading. I’m still really enjoying this book, but it’s slow going for sure.
I think I’ll finish Once In a Great City by David Maraniss  this week. It’s a good one to listen to during my long runs and it’s fun listening to it while I drive because more than once, I’ve been on the freeways or in sight of the buildings he mentions and it’s really exhilarating.
I started a new physical book, A Son of the Circus by John Irving. Many of you know how much I love Irving and I’m also a big fan of circus books so this is one I’m really looking forward to! It’s a long one so I expect it to be here a while.

Recently finished: I finished Lotería by Mario Alberto Zambrano Saturday night. It was a lot faster of a read than I thought and I was glad to get through it. The images in it were beautiful and the story was a big puzzle to solve which was a cool structure. My review is already up so please go check it out. I gave it 4 out of 5 Stars.

Reading Next: The plan is still to listen to Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See on audio, though I may power through Library of Souls before I pick it up, just depending on what the hubby and I decide to do with that one. I’m looking forward to See’s book, though!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 29-March-2017

29 Mar

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Currently reading: I decided not to take Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs off of this list. Hubby and I are going on a road trip for a friend’s baby shower this weekend so we’ll have six hours in the car and I hope we can make some decent progress on this book!
I’ve been picking up The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler as much as possible because I’m really enjoying the story and I don’t want to forget what I’ve read each time I pick it up. I think I’m getting close to some major action and I can’t wait!
I’ve made steady progress on Once In a Great City by David Maraniss because of long runs and time spent cooking so I’m happy with how this one is going. I think I’ll have it finished next week!
I started  Lotería by Mario Alberto Zambrano! I’m so excited to finally be reading this one. I bought it two years ago because I thought it was pretty, haha. I don’t normally pick books out by their covers so this was a fun treat for myself.

Recently finished: I finally finished Night Soldiers by Alan Furst! It was a mad scramble to finish it over the weekend before I had to return it on Tuesday but I managed and I’m so proud, woo! The review went up yesterday so go check it out!

Reading Next: I think I’ll need an audiobook next and at the top of my list is Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. I have a signed copy of this one but I’m making an effort to knock down my TBR through audio whenever possible so I’ll go for it. Besides, then I don’t have to worry about my signed copy getting battered at all!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Meeting Author Lisa See

21 Apr

After a book review and two book club reflections, I’m finally able to post about meeting author Lisa See. She flew in from California to speak to us on April 11th and I went with my mom to hear what she had to say.

img_2945See was able to speak really well to her family’s history in California. Her great-great-grandfather was the first to come over from China though he went back and it was her great-grandfather who first stayed. She used him as the inspiration for Old Man Louie.

See said there were eight things she wanted to talk about when she wrote Shanghai Girls. Unfortunately, I only got down seven of them. I don’t know what I missed, but here they are.

  1. Shanghai. It was at the peak of its splendor right before the Japanese invasion and she wanted to talk about how it changed.
  2. Beautiful Girls. She loves the posters and collects the memorabilia.
  3. Arranged Marriages. In her family, one great-uncle took his nine sons back to China and all returned home with wives as part of an arranged marriage. She wanted to talk about how these marriages can end up.
  4. Angle Island. Immigrants were held there from anywhere between two weeks to two years. Most of the stories written about the island tell the story of men. See was able to find documentation of a female relative of hers that came through the island and took many of the questions from Pearl’s interrogation right from her relative’s interrogation transcript. When touring the island once, See was told there were no records of babies being born on the Island though many have personal stories. These babies, officially, did not exist.
  5. China City. See’s great-grandpa owned a shop at the beginning of China City, much like Old Man Louie. Growing up, See’s family still owned it but she was afraid China City would soon fade into history.
  6. The Confession Program. It wasn’t an amnesty program, but a confession program and See wanted to show why.
  7. Sisters. See has two half sisters and a former step-sister herself and wanted to talk about the relationship. One of her sisters reads her manuscripts and wants to be very clear that they are not Pearl and May from the book.

Continuing with lists, See told us about her three biggest inspirations to write. She said overall, she was encouraged by the 1,000s of female writers Yangzi Delta which showed her women could be successful writers. These three quotes and sayings inspired her as well.

  1. Art is the heartbeat of the artist.
  2. You have to cut to the bone to write.
  3. “Fooling around in the papers my grandparents, especially my grandmother, left behind, I get glimpses of lives close to mine, related to mine in ways I recognize but don’t completely comprehend. I’d like to live in their clothes a while, if only so I don’t have to live in my own.” – Wallace Stegner in his novel The Angle of Repose

I love Stegner so I was really excited that one of his quotes inspired her.

See was able to answer a few questions during a Q&A after she was done talking. It was mentioned that her new book will be called ‘The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane.’ It’s ready to publish, but with the election year going on, they wanted to wait until next June to put it out so there would be time for her on radio and TV to publicize it. She’s about to start research on the next book and will be traveling to Korea to start researching it. She said it takes her 2-3 years to write a book because of the research involved in the process.

When she first wrote Shanghai Girls, she did not intend to write a sequel. She felt the end was a new beginning and it was a good way to leave our main characters. If you’ve read my review, you’d know how much I’m not OK with this. See’s editor pushed her to write the sequel and I’m told it ends on a bit of a cliffhanger as well. She has no intention of writing a third.

See’s book Snow Flower and the Secret Fan was made into a movie. Asking her how she felt about the movie was great. See said they asked for her opinion on the changes they were making and she told them what she thought and they made the changes anyway. She looks at it in a great light, though. She said her story is filtered through her, but when it becomes a movie, the story is filtered through the director as well and his artistic ideas change what she’s already seen. I thought that was really positive.

img_2954I was able to meet See and have my three books signed. I asked her the question I ask every author when I meet them. What advice would you give me to be as successful as you? She said to get into the habit of writing 1,000 words a day. Also to be passionate about what you’re writing. It doesn’t matter if only 5,000 people read what you wrote as long as it’s the right 5,000 people. Don’t worry about writing a best seller.

I’m really glad the libraries worked to bring See in to speak to us. I’m looking forward to my next author appearance, Emily St. John Mandel in May.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Club Discussion (Round 2): Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

11 Apr

Because Lisa See is coming to my area to speak this week, both of my book clubs decided to read her title Shanghai Girls. You can read my review and previous book club discussion for some of my other opinions on the book.

Most of the group liked this title. See made us care about the characters, especially the sisters, and they were well-developed. I don’t have sisters, but those who did said the fighting between the characters reminded them of growing up with their siblings. It felt like See knew Pearl and May well and we wondered if they might be based on members of See’s family.

The first thing we had to talk about was May turning Sam in. None of us could believe she’d do something so stupid. It was hard to believe that she honestly thought she was helping. If she did, then she would have told Pearl and Sam. By keeping it a secret, it’s very evident that she’s trying to hide what she did. May is too modern and open in the American style to keep her mouth shut. If Pearl had done something similar, she never would have told. She would have died with the secret. The fight the two had at the end was a very central part of the plot and adds to my frustration of the book seeming unfinished. We were really shocked that it took 19 years for May to throw in her sister’s face who Joy’s real mother was. It seemed like something May would have resorted to it much sooner. A lot of us hadn’t realized how much Pearl was martyring herself until May brought it up. It wasn’t something that Pearl ever complained about. She almost seemed to enjoy her life and felt safe being a martyr. It was unlike Pearl to erupt at May the way she did and we wondered if some of her anger were misplaced and was really anger at Sam more than it was at her sister. We asked ourselves if May and Pearl could have repaired their relationship if Joy hadn’t run off. Would they have cut each other out of their lives if they didn’t have Joy to pull them back together? Pearl is always upset that their father preferred May though we felt that their mother preferred Pearl. The way their mother acts toward Pearl before she dies felt that way.

A lot of us hated May for what she did to Pearl in having an affair with ZG. I was alone in being blindsided by this twist. Everyone else saw it coming! I guess I’m blind to it all.

Several times, it was pointed out that May wasn’t as smart as Pearl. We didn’t really agree with that. On Angle Island, May shows us how smart she is and how she kept them there long enough for the baby to be an American. She didn’t let on when she was doing something smart. Only when it benefited her did she let on. May was good with money and found ways to keep the family going. She hid money away for an emergency the same way their mother had. She was resourceful, even if she wasn’t as book smart as Pearl.

One of the things that seemed inconsistent to us when it came to the girls was being Beautiful Girls at the beginning. We couldn’t believe that their parents would allow them to do that in Shanghai. The money must have been good for their parents to allow it. It seemed to be very against the cultural expectations they had for the girls.

In my last book club discussion, we focused on the Zodiac signs of Pearl and May. This time, we focused on Sam. He was the Ox, one who would plod along and be reliable, working for the family and doing what was needed of him. His suicide fits into this role, in a way, because it was a selfless thing for him to do in order to protect his family. We questioned if the Zodiac sign of a person morphed him or her into what they were instead of being a prediction of their personality type.

A lot of us learned a lot of history from the book. We weren’t aware of the Paper Son phenomenon and were a little blown away with how meticulous and thought-out the process was. We were equally shocked at the number of people claiming citizenship after the San Francisco Fire. I’d never heard of that! Most of us were familiar with Ellis Island immigration stories but Angel Island was something new. The holding and treatment of the women described sound terrible and we were shocked it hadn’t come to our attention prior.

Lisa See is 1/8 Chinese. She had writers in her family but never wanted to be a writer. She was told that you had to have sadness in your life to be a writer and didn’t want to be sad. I think it worked out for her anyway.

It was a really good discussion for us and we had a big turnout. Our next book is Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith. We’ll see how the discussion goes, soon.

Until next time, write on.

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