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Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: A Novel by…

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: A Novel (2005)

by Lisa See

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 360 (next | show all)
Our own "sworn sisterhood" (book club) had much to discuss on the topic of footbinding and other ways modern women are bound.

See takes us to 19th century rural China, when marriages were arranged, feet bound and having sons was a woman's only means of achieving purpose in life. Lily and Snow Flower become "old sames" (Laotong) at age 7 and pledge their never-ending love and devotion. The communicate using "nu shu" - a secret women's language - writing verses in the folds of a fan. But a misunderstanding of the purposely vague language causes a nearly irreparable rift.

I'm not sure I like Lily at all - she is so self-righteous. But then, all she ever sought was unconditional love - someone to love her despite her faults.

An extraordinary book! Highly recommended. ( )
  BookConcierge | Feb 12, 2016 |
Wow, what a beautifully told story. Totally captured my imagination. The descriptions of the foot-binding process made me wince, but made me think about the stiletto heels that so many women still wear. Although the story is told in a simple fashion, not overwrought, in spite of the many tragegies and sadnesses that occur, it is still very affecting. The author's voice is very believable, as composed on the page as the actions of the characters are outwardly proper and composed. But in reading the story, the reader still understands the pain. ( )
  fromthecomfychair | Feb 11, 2016 |
This story is told by Lily, who when the story opens, is an 80 year old woman living in 19th century China looking back on her life and her friendship with Snow Flower. Lily and Snow Flower are "laotong", meaning "old same"; paired by a matchmaker when they are 7 years old, an emotional match meant to last a lifetime.

As the years pass, Snow Flower and Lily visit each other, and exchange letters, written in nu shu, an ancient Chinese language only written and understood by women. They also write messages on a fan, which they pass between them over the years. This goes on for years, and over time, the relationship changes; a misunderstanding causes Lily to break the contract. Will she realize what she has lost before it is too late?

This is a very engrossing novel; I learned a lot about the culture in China during that time. Lily and Snow Flower both endure foot binding as young girls; the descriptions are quite graphic, but it's an important part of the story. But I still have a hard time imagining how it was possible to walk with such tiny, broken feet. It's even harder to imagine the mothers putting their daughters through something so painful.

Also very interesting are the customs of marriage. Marriages are arranged when the girls are just 10 years old, or even younger, but they don't meet their husbands until the wedding day, which takes place when they are around 17 years old. But they go back to live with their parents, visiting their husbands 4-5 times per year, and they don't permanently go to live with their husband's families until they are about to give birth to the first child. ( )
  AlexisLovesBooks | Feb 9, 2016 |
Very well written and I loved the subject. But, I found it a bit anticlimactic and ultimately disappointing. ( )
  lovelypenny | Feb 4, 2016 |
When I saw the movie preview for the film based on this book, I had to read the book first. Wow. Lisa See is an excellent storyteller. I was sucked in immediatly. I really enjoyed reading this books and sharing the life experiences of these two women. I learned a little about Chinese culture from a female perspective and what it means to be a true friend. Lilly and Snowflower were great characters and I was blown away by what they had to endure and experience. I'm glad to have finally read a novel by Lisa See. She is as good as I have been told. ( )
  Erika.D | Jan 28, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 360 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (18 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lisa Seeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
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.
No matter how scared I was of her words, I wanted to cling to those wings and fly away
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Disambiguation notice
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References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
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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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812968069, Paperback)

In nineteenth-century China, in a remote Hunan county, a girl named Lily, at the tender age of seven, is paired with a laotong, “old same,” in an emotional match that will last a lifetime. The laotong, Snow Flower, introduces herself by sending Lily a silk fan on which she’s painted a poem in nu shu, a unique language that Chinese women created in order to communicate in secret, away from the influence of men. As the years pass, Lily and Snow Flower send messages on fans, compose stories on handkerchiefs, reaching out of isolation to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments. Together, they endure the agony of foot-binding, and reflect upon their arranged marriages, shared 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 deep friendship suddenly threatens to tear apart.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:23 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

In nineteenth century China, in a remote Hunan county, a girl named Lily, at the tender age of seven, is paired with a laotong, or "old same," in an emotional match that will last a lifetime. The two women exchange messages written on silk fans and handkerchieves using nu shu, a unique language that women created in order to communicate in secret, sharing their experiences, but when a misunderstanding arises, their friendship threatens to tear apart.… (more)

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Lisa See is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

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1.5 4
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6 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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