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Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: A Novel by…
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Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: A Novel (original 2005; edition 2009)

by Lisa See

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11,262442597 (4)604
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)
Member:pennylane451
Title:Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: A Novel
Authors:Lisa See
Info:Random House Trade Paperbacks (2009), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Your library
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Tags:Read but do not own

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Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (2005)

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» See also 604 mentions

English (429)  Spanish (4)  Catalan (2)  Danish (2)  Italian (1)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  All languages (440)
Showing 1-5 of 429 (next | show all)
Enjoyed but is the least favourite of the Lisa See books I’ve read to date. ( )
  ChristineMiller47 | Apr 6, 2024 |
This was a lot closer to the long Chinese tales of friendship I enjoy like her later books compared to the more contemporary Chinese Dolls I just read. ( )
  hellokirsti | Jan 3, 2024 |
I enjoyed the novel (I'm a huge historical fiction and Chinese history buff), but it wasn't as good as I'd hoped. I may be unfairly comparing it to Amy Tan's novels, which leave you feeling both emotionally raw and touched. ( )
  Colleen.Greene | Dec 17, 2023 |
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan has some really interesting historical detail about women's lives in 19th century China. As children, Lily and Snow Flower are tied together as laotong, lifelong friends. There are similarities in this type of match to a marriage. They are also both taught nu shu, which is a written language used exclusively by Chinese women. I was interested to learn about all of these cultural details of 19th century China, which seemed well-researched.

At the same time, I didn't really connect to either of these main characters. I think that the author intended the whole novel to end up reading like one of the didactic tales common in the era, but I think that authorial decision also kept the characters feeling a bit more like a means to an end in teaching a lesson rather than human beings.

I believe this was Lisa See's first standalone novel after a mystery series she wrote. I read one of her later novels recently and felt it was much better written than this one. I think she has matured as an author and while this early novel has interesting detail and a good story, she's gotten better at adding in well-rounded characters in her later writing. ( )
1 vote japaul22 | Dec 15, 2023 |
More like three and a half stars. I thought the story itself was a little weak, but the details of the lives that these women lead had me hooked. ( )
  jskeltz | Nov 23, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 429 (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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