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:
Starred Review. As both a suspenseful and poignant story and an absorbing historical chronicle, this novel has bestseller potential and should become a reading group favorite as well.
Library Journal - Beth E Anderson
See's meticulous research and exquisite language deliver a story that is haunting, powerful, and, at times, almost too painful to bear. Highly recommended.
Taut and vibrant, the story offers a delicately painted view of a sequestered world and provides a richly textured account of how women might understand their own lives. A keenly imagined journey into the women's quarters.
Lisa See has written her best book yet. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is achingly beautiful, a marvel of imagination of a real and secret world that has only recently disappeared. It is a story so mesmerizing the pages float away and the story remains clearly before us from beginning to end.
Arthur Golden, author of Memoirs of a Geisha
Only the best novelists can do what Lisa See has done, to bring to life not only a character but an entire culture, and a sensibility so strikingly different from our own. This is an engrossing and completely convincing portrayal of a woman shaped by suffering forced upon her from her earliest years, and of the friendship that helps her to survive.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Catherine Gray THE BEAUTY OF MEMORIES AND LOVE The first time I read this book " Snow Flower and the secret Fan" It brings me right into China. I could feel the pain of the women in isolation in the Women's Chamber. Lily a brave and wonderful woman of authority, so descriptive in... Read More
Rated of 5
by kim new favorite book What an incredible story. I couldn't put it down. I enjoyed learning about the Chinese culture in a way that made you feel you were actually there. It is a wonderful book about family relations, but most of all deep long-lasting friendships... Read More
Rated of 5
by A Bookshelf Monstrosity Arranged marriages, loss, and motherhood in nineteenth-century China I can't believe I waited so long to read this book. Shame on me. This book was wonderful, lyrical, entertaining - all the makings of a wonderful novel. I was transported to 19th century China as I read the words of Lily and her experiences with... Read More
Rated of 5
by Jeanine Wilson Snow Flower and the Secret Fan Snow Flower and the Secret Fan was a wonderful, loving, and tragic story of friendship and betrayal that teaches the reader much about compassion and forgiveness. We felt that Snow Flower and the Secret Fan was a book that truly... Read More
Rated of 5
by Su Lim Chinese women's blood and tears I can't sleep for three days after reading 'Snow Flower and the Secret Fan'. Lisa was able to tell the dynamics of the women's bondage as is. No right. No wrong. No religious connotation. I am deeply touched. I was really moved by Lisa's keen... Read More
Rated of 5
by Brittany Honshul This is a great book!!! This is the best book I read about friendship...Snowflower seems like a very good friend...and mother...I just can't believe that she have those many babies die...truly sad...The children's deaths were saddening especially Beautiful Moons...I... Read More
The practice of foot binding began around 970 BC.
Bound feet were described as 'lily feet' because they were
considered so beautiful and were symbolic of gentility
The process began for a girl between 3 and 11 years. The
four small toes were broken and turned under and bound,
then the arches were broken so the foot could be pulled
straight with the leg. Overtime the feet would shrink so
they could fit in 'lotus shoes' 3 inches long. In the
1600s the Manchu Dynasty attempted to end foot binding
but it was not officially banned until 1911, when the New Republic was
The history of foot binding
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