Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

Lily is haunted by memories-of who she once was, and of a person, long gone,Snow Flower and the Secret Fan who defined her existence. She has nothing but time now, as she recounts the tale of Snow Flower, and asks the gods for forgiveness.
In nineteenth-century China, when wives and daughters were foot-bound and lived in almost total seclusion, the women in one remote Hunan county developed their own secret code for communication: nu shu (“women’s writing”). Some girls were paired with laotongs, “old sames,” in emotional matches that lasted throughout their lives. They painted letters on fans, embroidered messages on handkerchiefs, and composed stories, thereby reaching out of their isolation to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments.
With the arrival of a silk fan on which Snow Flower has composed for Lily a poem of introduction in nu shu, their friendship is sealed and they become “old sames” at the tender age of seven. As the years pass, through famine and rebellion, they reflect upon their arranged marriages, 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 lifelong friendship suddenly threatens to tear apart.
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is a brilliantly realistic journey back to an era of Chinese history that is as deeply moving as it is sorrowful. With the period detail and deep resonance of Memoirs of a Geisha, this lyrical and emotionally charged novel delves into one of the most mysterious of human relationships: female friendship.

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2 Responses to “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan”

  1. Shelly says:

    My mom suggested this book after her return from a trip to China saying that it was one of the most interesting she had read. I myself have read several books on Mao, and was now glad to get insight on the women of China. After you read the part about footbinding you will feel bound (no pun intended) to google some images. Amazing!

  2. Nicki says:

    I read this book on the plane to South africa – the whole book. Couldn’t stop reading and am still thinking about it a couple of months later. It’s very visual with the result that I had to take a short break from reading at lunch when the descriptions of footbinding were at their most graphic. I usually avoid this type (my idea of this ‘type’) of story and go for mysteries, thrillers or generally strange books so I was very pleasantly suprised. Luckily there’s none of the mushy icky female gushing (can’t think of a better description) in it because i’d have resorted to watching the drunk Irish group during the flight instead. It’s a tough story about a hard life and mostly it’s about survival. Inspirational. I’d certainly read another book by Lisa See.