Lots of painful storytelling in this book - literally. One reason why I enjoy reading so much, is that I learn things that are outside of my day to day experiences. In Snow Flower, the ancient tradition of foot binding is central to the story. While reading, I looked up articles and the history of the practice just to understand the 'why'.
What I found is that it is an terrible, demeaning and male driven process that made for a difficult and painful life for women living in Imperial China. Unbelievably it was also considered highly erotic and sexual - a perfectly bound foot could drive a man to fits of ecstasy. Crazy and you could never make such information up.
I would argue that the foot binding in Snow Flower really is what drives the relationships and hierarchy - having the perfect bound feet could elevate families to before unknown wealth and prestige. It is they "why" of much of the storyline. If not for perfect feet then...
Even so, I felt like the story was told in too much of a self-centered fashion. A lot of "woe is me" and not too much empathy or insightful development from the main character. Eventually I ended up feeling like it was a story being told for the sake of being told. No emotion or feeling - or that important element - a connection!
Although the reader gets a historical perspective, it didn't feel true to me. While a wonderful well of potential, the story was told just for the telling.