Monday, 7 July 2014

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
by Lisa See
Rating:  5/5

Pages: 333
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Publication Date: 2005
ISBN: 978-1-4088-2162-6

Summary (via Goodreads)

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 she’s 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


I expected to enjoy this book but I wasn't expecting how much I would love reading it. Set before foot-binding became illegal and arranged marriages were still a matter for the parents to arrange, the book tells the heart-wrenching, tragic story of Lily and Snow Flower, two young Chinese women. Using a simple fan as their paper, the two girls communicate to one another despite their differences throughout their lives. Lisa See proves how even when women were believed to have no voice they would still make their experiences known, so that even now centuries later, we can still feel their words.

The book describes pretty much every relationship a woman can have throughout her life and how each role will be different whether it be the role of daughter, sister, friend, wife or mother.

What I enjoyed most about this book was that I really didn't know what to expect. See kept me guessing right to the end, and I was shocked frequently at the various storylines that took place. I found her description of foot binding to be so accurate that I struggled to read it, something that rarely ever happens.

Definitely deserving of the film version made of it I could read this book again and again.

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