Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Title - Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
Author - Lisa See
Genre - Historical Fiction
Pages - 265
Format Read - Paperback

Description (from goodreads)

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.


Snow flower and the secret fan was a tradjic novel, sprinkled with ancient chinese culture. I enjoyed learning about the ways of ancient China and how women were looked upon by men and even other women. Women were worthless, only one thing could bring up thier worth: giving birth to sons, for sons were the loved children who would go out into the world and work the fields, they were head of household and what they say went. Women were expected to be demure, obediant and stay in the womans chamber away from the outer world of men.

In this book we follow Lily, the narrators life as she travels from little girl to Lady Lu, respected and wealthy woman.  When Lily is a small girl at the age of 6-7 she is given a fan from her laotong (old same) who will remain her friend for many, many years.

We watch as Lily and Snow Flower communicate about thier foot bindings, a horrible painful process of binding the feet so that the toes break and reshape into a dainty point called 'golden lilys.' We learn about the ways of marriage and wifely duties. Throughout the book we see triumphs and tradjety. There are many deaths but also some joy.  Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is a beautiful book and should be read by anyone interested in chinese culture or fans of historical fiction.


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