Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

A Novel

See, Lisa

Book - 2005
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
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"). Some girls were paired with laotongs, "old sames," in emotional matches that lasted throughout their lives. 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. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is a brilliantly realistic journey back to an era of Chinese history that is as deeply moving as it is sorrowful. With the period detail and deep resonance of Memoirs of a Geisha, this lyrical and emotionally charged novel delves into one of the most mysterious of human relationships: female friendship.

Publisher: New York : Random House, 2005
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9781400060283
Branch Call Number: FICTION SEE
Characteristics: 258 p. ;,24 cm


From Library Staff

I'm thankful for this book by Lisa See about 19th century women's cultural traditions in China and the lives of two girls profoundly affected, both positively and negatively, by them. -Rondi B.

A story of friendship set in nineteenth-century China follows an elderly woman and her companion as they communicate their hopes, dreams, joys, and tragedies through a unique secret language.

A resonant novel of 19th Century China that Publisher's Weekly called "both a suspenseful and poignant story and an absorbing historical chronicle."

From the critics

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Dec 23, 2014
  • rfelch80 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Beautiful, sad. Delicate and quiet book.

Sep 09, 2014

Wonderful book! Highly recommend it.

Jun 09, 2014

This book has a way of explaining the life in China

Apr 10, 2014
  • AndreaBeatriz rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Currently reading it for the 3rd time. Every time I read this beautiful book, I love it even more.

The book has different sections to it, and although it does not completely cover every aspect of Lily's (the narrator's) life, it goes through specific time periods that affected her and Snow Flower's friendship.

I wish it could have gone into the relationship between Lily and her daughter a little bit more, because it seems to me that in the end she became just like her mother. But, then again, the book cannot possibly cover everything, and its main focus was the friendship between the two central characters.

It is an interesting look at friendship, and I would definitely recommend it. (Especially if you're into historical fiction!)

Apr 08, 2014
  • Aggie3 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This book is very well written, it's captivating and reads well. One of the best books I have read lately. I highly recommend it. Lisa See is a brilliant author. A peak at times past, customs past, but very human and real. A big thumbs up!

Aug 07, 2013

Good read, but as many other readers have already mentioned, the context wasn't about the secret writing/fan. It does provide a good insight into the older Chinese culture, especially around feet wrapping and the marriage traditions. The book teaches you a lot about how relationships, among women, were kept during back when education wasn't openly accessible for females. The ending was like any other Lisa See book, short and rushed.

Jun 27, 2013
  • alyssaj91 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

This book was a great read, even though the "secret fan" wasn't really all that secret. But every time I opened this book I was transported into this world of duty and love. It's true what they all say, it is a heartbreaking story but it is so good that I would highly recommend it to anyone with a need for a good read.

Apr 17, 2013
  • cisterno rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Love Lisa See. Awesome book not only for historical content but for the relationship between Snow Flower and Lily.

Apr 09, 2013
  • HerEveryBreath rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

I expected so much, alas!! Poor read. Poor read.

Apr 05, 2013
  • deda_roger rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Sad, beautiful, heartbreaking and very well written.

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Apr 08, 2014
  • Aggie3 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Aggie3 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

May 09, 2013
  • ANNA TRAN NGUYEN rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

ANNA TRAN NGUYEN thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

May 14, 2012
  • amysueoreilly rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

amysueoreilly thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over


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Mar 23, 2011
  • sylvia6669 rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

80 year-old woman reflects on relationships. She has many regrets concerning decisions she made...especially concerning her beloved "laotong" Snow Flower.


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