Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Book - 2005
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An old women in nineteenth-century China reminisces about a life-long friendship and how it was maintained using letters composed in nu shu, a secret "women's writing" but threatened by a misunderstanding.
Publisher: New York : Random House, c2005
ISBN: 9780812982718
Characteristics: 258 p


From Library Staff

breadandjamforfrances May 10, 2011

A wonderfully researched novel that immerses the reader in a time period and culture that is completely different from the modern Western world. Poetic and vivid writing from the author.

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Mar 13, 2018

This was a good family story but it was a fascinating cultural story as well. Highly recommended if you enjoy reading books set in other countries.

Jul 05, 2017

This book will transport you to another time, another place when women were treated quite differently. This is the story of Snow Flower and Lily, two women from different villages and different circumstances and status'. The journey of these women's lives will make you laugh, then make you cry. This story brings to light the indifference to women's plights during this time and the cultural norms then. The writing is beautiful and poignant. This touching novel is well worth reading over and over again.

Jan 30, 2017

Lily is from an upper middle class family where the traditions of foot binding, arranged marriages, and the total sequestering of women is a way of life. Their value is only in how advantageous a marriage they can enter into. The matchmaker begins her work years before marriage is possible. First she must examine all Lily's omens, celestial signs and zodiac portents to find Snow Flower, the perfect 'sworn sister' for her. They begin a lifelong friendship meant to carry them through all their life long. Each follows all the customs and traditions expected of them, but their paths diverge. Lily is married into a wealthy family while Snow Flower is matched to a butcher, a profession deemed unclean in their society. Their friendship hits rocky patches and leaves Lily bewildered as to what is happening. She must re-evaluate her life as a woman in feudal China. All in all a very good read. Be warned, the passages dealing with foot binding might be too graphic for some readers.

Jun 22, 2016

Watched the film and decided to give the book a try ... a bit slow but really an unique experience about a lost culture. Noted that there are no quotes posted yet and decided to add a few, see "Quotes."

PimaLib_PearlD Sep 24, 2015

Lisa See is one of my favorite authors of historical fiction. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan led me to read her other books. Her books are of the very interesting lives of Chinese women and the hardships they endure.

May 26, 2015

Historical fiction very different from others I have read. I wondered how some of the traditions began and when they fell out of practice in China. It is unfortunate how long some of them lasted or still linger in some parts of the country. Overall an interesting read.

WVMLStaffPicks Jan 19, 2015

Lily has reached the age of 80 and as senior woman of a wealthy household she is powerful enough that she can speak her mind about her life's treasures and errors. Born in 1823 in the Hunan province Lily started off as "a second worthless girl" in a poor family. Because her feet were high in the arch and potentially breathtaking, she had the potential to marry well and elevate her family's status. She could also enter a formal match with another woman, a sworn sister - a lifetime best friend - and thus begins the incredible story of Snow Flower and Lily, together forever.

Dec 23, 2014

Beautiful, sad. Delicate and quiet book.

Sep 09, 2014

Wonderful book! Highly recommend it.

mike11245 Jun 09, 2014

This book has a way of explaining the life in China

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Feb 03, 2018

blue_dog_12102 thinks this title is suitable for All Ages

Aggie3 Apr 08, 2014

Aggie3 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

May 09, 2013

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

amysueoreilly May 14, 2012

amysueoreilly thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over


Add a Quote

Jun 23, 2016

Many memorable quotes in Goodreads:

Jun 22, 2016

“Beautiful Moon, we hope the flower tower brings you peace. We hope you forget about us, but we will never forget you. We will honor you. We will clean your grave at Spring Festival. Do not let your thoughts run wild. Live in your flower tower and be happy.”
“She loved you as a laotong should for everything that you were and everything you were not,” Plum Blossom concluded. “But you had too much man-thinking in you. You loved her as a man would, valuing her only for following men’s rules.”
“My writing is soaked with the tears of my heart, An invisible rebellion that no man can see. Let our life stories become tragic art. Oh, Mama, oh, sisters, hear me, hear me.”
“The bed is lit by moonlight. I think it is the light snow of an early winter morning. Looking up, I enjoy the full moon in the night sky. Bending over, I miss my hometown.”

Jun 22, 2016

“A woman without knowledge is better than a woman with an education.”
The letter began in the traditional opening to a bride: I feel knives in my heart as I write to you. We promised each other that we would never be a step apart, that a harsh word would never pass between us.I thought we would have our whole lives together. I never believed this day would come. It is sad that we came into this life wrong—as girls—but this is our fate. Lily, we have been like a pair of mandarin ducks. Now everything changes. In the coming days you will learn thingsabout me. I have been restless and filled with apprehension. In my heart and in my mouth I have been weeping, thinking you will no longer love me. Please know that whatever you think of me, my opinion of you will never change.

Jun 22, 2016

“People may speak of us as girls who married out,” I sang, in the direction of Snow Flower, “but we will never be separated in our hearts. You go down; I go up. Your family butchers animals. My family is the best in the county. You are as close to me as my own heart. Our futures are tied together. We are like a bridge over a wide river. We walk side by side.” I wanted Snow Flower’s mother-in-law to hear me. But her eyes stared back at me suspiciously, her thin lips pressed into a slash of displeasure. As I came to the end, again I added a few new sentiments. “Don’t express misery where others can see you. Don’t let sobbing build. Don’t give ill-mannered people a reason to make fun of you or your family. Follow the rules. Smooth your anxious brow. We will be old sames forever.”


Add a Summary

Jan 03, 2017

Lilly tells her and Snow Flower's story - beginning in 1823 in a remote Hunan village - laotongs, Daughter Days, foot binding, Hair-Pinning Days, husbands and babies, the Taiping rebellion, the secret language. Graphic wrenching detail.


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