My American friends always asked me if I loved the book "Snowflower & The Secret Fan", I said no because it was the same old westernized fiction of the same old boring feet binding story.
I don't know why Westerners always have this fixation about Chinese women or Asian women being weak, suppressed and passive. Examples of strong and ambitious women are numerous throughout the history in Asia. Above is a drama about the first female ruler in Korea over 1500 years ago. The history about the 2 female characters are real, Princess Mishil, an ambitious and influential female politician who obtained her princess title by being the concubine of a series of Kings and Princess Deokman, the daughter of a King whom Princess Mishil put to the throne. Determined to break Princess Mishil's control over the emperor and the royal family, Princess Deomkman later became the first female emperor in Korea, defying the centuries old succession rule and the social status of the kingdom. The TV series is based on the history of these two women and is about their love of their country. It's about the competition of two women who wanted to possess the country for their very different dreams and ambitions. As a Chinese, I learnt a lot about Korea's culture by watching this dramatization of a piece of Korean ancient history. I learnt that there were 3 nations back then and that it was not unusual for women from the royal family and nobility to marry more than 1 husband and to bear children with several husbands... I learnt that China's Tang dynasty later also had its first female emperor about one generation later.. I wonder if the Korean Queen was the inspiration.
This would have been a great historical novel in Asian theme. It depicts the desire of power and love of 2 Asian women, and their dreams and hope. Without one of the women, there wouldn't be the other, and yet with one of them, there can't be another. The nation would be lost without these women and history would be re-written. This piece of Korean history is so fascinating that I just have to share the theme song and the MTV of the dramatized TV series....and I have to say no great historical novel so far, can beat this TV series ...Queen Elizabeth's story became boring, compared to this....These two ladies in ancient Korea exercised tremendous courage, wit, and fought their life long battle for their dreams with great grace. They didn't submit to their destinies, but rather they were determined to make destinies and to make history. Remarkable! On the other hand, "Snowflower & the Secret Fan" is simple minded, one dimensional story that uplifted Snowflower's poor background by mere marriage, which doesn't make sense to me at all. Rich people would never marry poor farm girl in that era. If a poor farm girl were to married into a wealthy family and defy all the rules that banned it, then lots of plotting and scheming had to be done... But only Chinese women would know how to fight and defy such rules and certainly not by sitting there hoping they got the right birthdays...this is why a historical novel written by a westerner normally doesn't convince.