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Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (2005)

by Lisa See

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
10,318417508 (4.01)564
Lily is haunted by memories--of who she once was, and of a person, long gone, 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"). 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.… (more)
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» See also 564 mentions

English (408)  Spanish (3)  Catalan (2)  Danish (2)  German (1)  All languages (416)
Showing 1-5 of 408 (next | show all)
I liked the way to book was written, and I really was fond of the character, and I learned a lot about the Chinese' culture. But it was just not much of my cup of tea. Still enjoyed the book, though! ( )
  iamcmims | Apr 4, 2021 |
This book was very interesting. It gives an in depth view of the life a Chinese woman during the 19th Century. Some of the things these women were expected to enduring was just atrocious! The foot binding chapters alone made me want to cry for them. This book is a definite eye opener and should be read by many people today who want cry out for their own so called injustices. These women truly suffered in silence. ( )
  Brandi820-04 | Apr 1, 2021 |
This was an excellent story. I was a bit skeptical with the graphic footbinding scene near the beginning, but realized that the pain experienced by the narrator really played into the entire story. It was necessary to see this and understand her life and place in the culture. My only complaint is a bit picky, but it bothered me nonetheless - I felt like I didn't get a real glimpse of the narrator's personality and inner life until later in the book. Part of who she was (and later had to come to terms with) was her proper etiquette and belief in the customs of being a woman. Yet, this quality made her feel a bit wooden and distant to me. I didn't get a real feel for who she was until later, when she starts questioning her actions. I also though many of the other characters were kind of stock characters, limited to only a few personality traits. ( )
  JustZelma | Dec 20, 2020 |
I couldn't put this one down...the subject matter is absolutely fascinating and although foot binding is not the central theme of the book, it is integral to the story. ( )
  Mona07452 | Oct 23, 2020 |
Another favorite of my book club. ( )
  baruthcook | Aug 26, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 408 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (18 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lisa Seeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Ridder, SusanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Song, JanetNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I am what they call in our village "one who has not yet died" -- a widow, eighty years old.
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No matter how scared I was of her words, I wanted to cling to those wings and fly away
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Lily is haunted by memories--of who she once was, and of a person, long gone, 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"). 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.

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Friends Snow Flower and Lily find solace in their bond as they face isolation, arranged marriages, loss, and motherhood in nineteenth-century China.
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