It is present day Shanghai and Nina and Sophia are struggling to maintain their childhood friendship among the demands of career, relationships, and family. Drawing from the lessons of the past, Nina and Sophia learn to understand their ancestral connections to Lily and Snowflower… their laotong, and the ways of 19th century China.
Like nu shu secrets within the creases of a fan…. both story lines mesh to tell one… of hope, love, and friendship.
Laotong or LaoTong (in English: old sames; written: 老同 in Mandarin) is a type of relationship within Chinese culture, which was practised in Hunan, that bonded two girls together for eternity as kindred sisters.
There were two cultural practises in Hunan in past centuries that acknowledged women’s social bonds. One was Laotong, the other was Laotang.
Chinese women commonly refer to each other as “Sisters.” This is a recognition of the importance of women’s supportive relationships, which helped them endure hardship over their lives. Preparation for marriage might involve a Laotang relationship between several young women; the sisterhood would be dissolved upon marriage. After marriage, new sisterhoods could be formed later between married or widowed women.
For Chinese women, the Laotong or “Old-Sames” relationship was the most precious friendship bond. This was a more rare and formal relationship between women. A woman could only have one Laotong, and the bond was for life.
Yesterday I reviewed the audio version of Snowflower and The Secret Fan. This was quite the coincidence when I was offered to review the movie which released this week on DVD and Blue-Ray. I of course, said yes to this review as I missed out on this one in the theater.
At first the movie concerned me when I heard the main characters were not the lily and Snowflower I had expected…. but have patience, soon you will see that it is just being told from a second story line that I really grew to enjoy. Going back and forth between the modern Nina and Sophia and then to the history of Lily and Snowflower was an interesting way to present the story.
While I appreciated the audio greatly and highly advise you read or listen to the book first, I would recommend the movie as well as a compliment to the other. Beautifully detailed it brought tears to my eyes more than once. I was at once very impressed.
Along with the review of the book, I was asked to have a Laotong night with friends…. you don’t have to twist my arm to hang with friends! A road trip was planned to our cabin with my cousin’s wife Rhonda, and two other wonderful friends, Belinda and Sheila. It was a lot of fun as none of them had been to the cabin before.
We spent the day exploring the north shore shops and had lunch at the Blue Fin Bay Grill. We went back to the cabin where we made fajitas and chatted and laughed and wore mud masks and watched movies. It was just what my heart needed… time with friends… time to laugh and time to share.
If you read Book Journey on a regular basis you probably know that I enjoy many adventures with friends and work to make that time happen to renew and restore. I know that it is not always easy to do when you have time commitments, family, and small children but let me tell you that your friendships are important and time with friends… makes you a better you.
Here are a few ways you can plan time with friends:
A phone call when time is short….catch up!
A coffee date at a favorite coffee shop
Take in a movie – even a matinée
Send a card or small gift in the mail to those you can not see do to distance
Road trip… always talking about that shopping trip or sight seeing? Make it happen! 3 of my friends and I finally made that happen after years of talking about it in June.
A gym date – double duty! 🙂
I was sent three copies of the book Snow Flower and the Secret Fan to share with the girls who did the Laotong night with me. They took two of the copies… and I still have one left for one of you! I also have been offered a DVD or Blue Ray give away of the movie!
To enter for these giveaways (I will choose two winners, one book, one movie) leave a comment here telling me either of a fun night/ weekend you have done with friends – OR one you are planning to do.
For an extra entry, subscribe to Book Journey by signing up on the right hand side bar and let me know in a separate comment. If you are already a subscriber, let me know that in a separate comment for the extra entry.
USA and Canada only please… I will announce the winner Friday in my morning post.