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4 Burnside Literature- A to Z

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: A Novel

by

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: A Novel 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:

"[A] timeless portrait of a contentious, full-blooded female friendship, one that includes, over several decades, envy, betrayal, erotic love, and deep-seated loyalty. (Grade: A)" Entertainment Weekly

Review:

"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." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"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

Review:

"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." Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club and The Opposite of Fate: A Book of Musings

Review:

"I was mesmerized by this wondrous book — the story of a secret civilization of women, who actually lived in China not long ago....Magical, haunting fiction. Beautiful." Maxine Hong Kingston, author of The Fifth Book of Peace

Review:

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

Synopsis:

This absorbing novel — unlike anything Lisa See has written before — takes place in nineteenth-century China when girls had their feet bound, then spent the rest of their lives in seclusion with only a single window from which to see. Illiterate and isolated, they were not expected to think, be creative, or have emotions. But in one remote county, women developed their own secret code, nu shu — women's writing — the only gender-based written language to have been found in the world. Some girls were paired as old-same 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 windows to share their hopes and dreams. An old woman tells of her relationship with her old-same, their arranged marriages, and the joys and tragedies of motherhood — until a terrible misunderstanding threatens to tear them apart.Snow Flower and the Secret Fan delves into one of the most mysterious and treasured relationships of all time — female friendship.

Synopsis:

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 (“womens 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.

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 2 comments:

Yuki, August 14, 2012 (view all comments by Yuki)
This story details the lifelong friendship of two women in an ancient Chinese culture, connected in part by the secret code writing etched onto a fan that was traded back and forth over the years, conveying the warm wishes and love shared between two friends living different lives. According to the prologue, the secret writing on the fan were based on what appears to be the only written language in the world to have been created by women for their own use. From their youth, to hair-pinning days, arranged weddings and the detailed anguish of bloody foot binding undergone to keep their feet tiny and beautiful, the details of their village life are engaging and graphic. See writes in first person, clearly conveying the struggle between duty and desires, pain and heartache. Her descirptions of the lives of Snow Flower and Lily are very visual and very meticulous. This book features character you care about in a life far from today.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
cdomal, March 21, 2007 (view all comments by cdomal)
This is my 2nd attempt at getting some recognition for this wonderful book. I'm very hard to please when it comes to books. If it hasn't caught my attention by the 2nd chapter, I give up. This was so beautifully written. Every sentence so carefully crafted that I wished it would go on forever. It's the story of Lily who looks back at her life as an old lady. The betrayal of her best friend and her regrets over doing this. It takes place in 19th century China when women's feet were bound and marriages were arranged. "Nu shu" was the secret language women used to communicate with other women via the "Secret Fan".
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(17 of 23 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781400060283
Author:
See, Lisa
Publisher:
Random House (NY)
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
Copyright:
Publication Date:
June 28, 2005
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
272
Dimensions:
9.76x6.58x1.06 in. 1.13 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: A Novel Used Hardcover
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$6.95 In Stock
Product details 272 pages Random House - English 9781400060283 Reviews:
"Review" by , "[A] timeless portrait of a contentious, full-blooded female friendship, one that includes, over several decades, envy, betrayal, erotic love, and deep-seated loyalty. (Grade: A)"
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "See's meticulous research and exquisite language deliver a story that is haunting, powerful, and, at times, almost too painful to bear. Highly recommended."
"Review" by , "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." Amy Tan
"Review" by , "I was mesmerized by this wondrous book — the story of a secret civilization of women, who actually lived in China not long ago....Magical, haunting fiction. Beautiful." Maxine Hong Kingston
"Review" by , "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." Arthur Golden
"Synopsis" by , This absorbing novel — unlike anything Lisa See has written before — takes place in nineteenth-century China when girls had their feet bound, then spent the rest of their lives in seclusion with only a single window from which to see. Illiterate and isolated, they were not expected to think, be creative, or have emotions. But in one remote county, women developed their own secret code, nu shu — women's writing — the only gender-based written language to have been found in the world. Some girls were paired as old-same 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 windows to share their hopes and dreams. An old woman tells of her relationship with her old-same, their arranged marriages, and the joys and tragedies of motherhood — until a terrible misunderstanding threatens to tear them apart.Snow Flower and the Secret Fan delves into one of the most mysterious and treasured relationships of all time — female friendship.
"Synopsis" by , 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 (“womens 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.

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