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BookBrowse Reviews Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

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Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

A Novel

by Lisa See

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See X
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2005, 272 pages

    Paperback:
    Feb 2006, 288 pages

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A story that is haunting, powerful, and, at times, almost too painful to bear. Historical Novel

Comment: 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.

'See's meticulous research and exquisite language deliver a story that is haunting, powerful, and, at times, almost too painful to bear. Highly recommended.' - Library Journal.

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in July 2005, and has been updated for the February 2006 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

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