Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

"Snow Flower and the Secret Fan," by Lisa See
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.

This was a lovely book, I was surprised I liked it so much.  It is our May choice for the book club.  I really enjoyed the detail in the book and how the Chinese customs were passed along from generation to generation.

I knew nothing about foot-binding and to be honest I still don't understand why they had to go through the pain for those ugly looking feet; but what do I know?  I was also not impressed with how they treat women in general or female children.  

The hardship's and danger Lily and Snow Flower went through in their lives, made me feel like a whiner.  If we had to go through half of what they went through we would all have something to complain about.

I did shed some tears close to the end of the book, as it does tug at your heart strings with what happens.

Stars out of 5 : 5 This book sucked me in from the beginning, as much for the way their general daily life was described.  The friendship of Lily and Snow Flower was also a life line that they both clung too, to give them hope when times were tough for them.  Not only is this book a story it's also a history lesson for us all.  It really is well worth reading.  I may look for other books by the author.


  1. So glad you liked this book too! About five years ago, Lisa See came to our local bookstore and she autographed my book. She was a captivating speaker. I love going to author talks.

  2. I have never read anything by Lisa See and based on your great recommendation, I will add her to my list of authors to read. Yes, I agree that foot binding sounds barbaric, which is mustbhave felt like to so many of these women.

  3. I thought this book was really sad, not only because of the treatment of girls and women (who were seen as burdens and extra mouths to feed), but because the women themselves perpetrated these horrible acts onto their own children and upheld these cruel standards of beauty. That being said, it was well-written, and I like the story of the laotong traditions and the secret language.


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