Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

A Novel

eBook - 2005
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BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Lisa See's Peony in Love.

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.
Publisher: New York : Random House, 2005
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9781588364746
1588364747
Characteristics: 258 p. ; 25 cm
Additional Contributors: Overdrive, Inc

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a
alwordej
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.

g
GLNovak
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.

j
jimg2000
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.

s
SoftFire
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.

r
rfelch80
Dec 23, 2014

Beautiful, sad. Delicate and quiet book.

n
NANCY1936
Sep 09, 2014

Wonderful book! Highly recommend it.

mike11245 Jun 09, 2014

This book has a way of explaining the life in China

a
AndreaBeatriz
Apr 10, 2014

Currently reading it for the 3rd time. Every time I read this beautiful book, I love it even more.

The book has different sections to it, and although it does not completely cover every aspect of Lily's (the narrator's) life, it goes through specific time periods that affected her and Snow Flower's friendship.

I wish it could have gone into the relationship between Lily and her daughter a little bit more, because it seems to me that in the end she became just like her mother. But, then again, the book cannot possibly cover everything, and its main focus was the friendship between the two central characters.

It is an interesting look at friendship, and I would definitely recommend it. (Especially if you're into historical fiction!)

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Quotes

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j
jimg2000
Jun 23, 2016

Many memorable quotes in Goodreads:

http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/1453585-snow-flower-and-the-secret-fan

j
jimg2000
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.”

j
jimg2000
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.

j
jimg2000
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.”

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Aggie3 Apr 08, 2014

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ANNA TRAN NGUYEN
May 09, 2013

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Summary

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m
MarthaMyrick
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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