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Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

by

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

Review:

"Magical, haunting fiction. Beautiful." Maxine Hong Kingston, author of The Fifth Book of Peace

Review:

"Lisa See...has conquered a new genre — the historical novel — with passion and grit....While the novel's plot, characters and pacing are all exceptional, the true success of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan lies in its cultural relativism." Portland Oregonain

Review:

"See's translucent prose style gleams with the beauty of 19th century Chinese culture but also makes us burn with indignation at its sexist ugliness and injustice." Los Angeles Times

Review:

"[A] triumph on every level, a beautiful, heartbreaking story." Washington Post

Review:

"A marvel of imagination . . . so mesmerizing the pages float away and the story remains clearly before us from beginning to end." Amy Tan, author of Saving Fish from Drowning

Review:

"A provocative and affecting portrait." Chicago Tribune

Review:

"Extraordinary . . . breathtaking." Baltimore Sun

Review:

"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." Arthur Golden, author of Memoirs of a Geisha

Synopsis:

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 shes 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.

Synopsis:

Set in 19th-century China, See's national bestseller tells a story of two young women who find solace with each other, developing a bond that keeps their spirits alive. But when a misunderstanding arises, their lifelong friendship suddenly threatens to tear apart. High school & older.

About the Author

Lisa See is the author of Flower Net (an Edgar Award nominee), The Interior, and Dragon Bones, as well as the critically acclaimed memoir On Gold Mountain. The Organization of Chinese American Women named her the 2001 National Woman of the Year. She lives in Los Angeles.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 12 comments:

canyonfossil, November 8, 2012 (view all comments by canyonfossil)
Lily and Snow Flower are Chinese girls whose parents bind their feet to make them more marriageable. Far from being child abuse, this is a highly desirable action and keenly anticipated by the girls themselves, because it represents their own chance to improve their station in life through a better marriage. Lily is fortunate in her marriage, but Snow Flower's life is not as she expected. A story of friendship in another culture and another time.

The descriptions of the binding and the ramifications thereof sent me scrambling for research on this custom. Unbelievable, but women today undergo surgery to make their feet fit pointed shoes, so have we really moved on?
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Marla Mazalan, January 19, 2012 (view all comments by Marla Mazalan)
Well written and researched story of friendship, misunderstanding and the different paths life can take set in 19th century China. Interesting to read about the culture of foot binding from the character's perspective.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Jill K Porco, January 1, 2012 (view all comments by Jill K Porco)
By far the best book I read in 2011 even though it was written earlier...
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
View all 12 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780812968064
Author:
See, Lisa
Publisher:
Random House Trade
Author:
Various
Subject:
General
Subject:
Women
Subject:
Historical - General
Subject:
Married women
Subject:
Domestic fiction
Subject:
Psychological fiction
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
china;fiction;historical fiction;friendship;women;footbinding;novel;historical;19th century;family;female friendship;history;marriage;nu shu;asia;asian;relationships;culture;literature;chinese culture;love;secret language;arranged marriage;contemporary;ad
Subject:
china;fiction;historical fiction;friendship;women;footbinding;historical;novel;19th century;family;female friendship;history;marriage;nu shu;relationships;asia;asian;culture;literature;chinese culture;love;adult;arranged marriage;secret language;contempor
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20060231
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
288
Dimensions:
12 x 9 x 5 in 9.74 lb

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Snow Flower and the Secret Fan Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$7.95 In Stock
Product details 288 pages Vintage - English 9780812968064 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Magical, haunting fiction. Beautiful."
"Review" by , "Lisa See...has conquered a new genre — the historical novel — with passion and grit....While the novel's plot, characters and pacing are all exceptional, the true success of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan lies in its cultural relativism."
"Review" by , "See's translucent prose style gleams with the beauty of 19th century Chinese culture but also makes us burn with indignation at its sexist ugliness and injustice."
"Review" by , "[A] triumph on every level, a beautiful, heartbreaking story."
"Review" by , "A marvel of imagination . . . so mesmerizing the pages float away and the story remains clearly before us from beginning to end."
"Review" by , "A provocative and affecting portrait."
"Review" by , "Extraordinary . . . breathtaking."
"Review" by , "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."
"Synopsis" by , 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 shes 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.
"Synopsis" by , Set in 19th-century China, See's national bestseller tells a story of two young women who find solace with each other, developing a bond that keeps their spirits alive. But when a misunderstanding arises, their lifelong friendship suddenly threatens to tear apart. High school & older.
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