Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

by Lisa See
4.4 878


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Snow Flower and the Secret Fan 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 878 reviews.
Lannie More than 1 year ago
Lily's words detail experiences in her life that will break your heart. The excruciating pain of foot-binding, the secluded life hidden away from men, and the necessity of creating their own secret language, were endured by the women in this culture. This is shocking how women are so devalued in this 19th century Chinese culture!! It reveals a culture that makes you shake your head with disbelief and makes you feel blessed to be living in America in the 21st century!! So much pain and heartbreak and so eye-opening! A real learning experience!
kerala More than 1 year ago
This is a book that should be recommended for everyone. It is not just a book for women --- it is far too good to be limited to any subset of readers. It is a book for anyone who loves great writing that illuminates not just the characters in the book but the readers and all their attributes both good and bad. It is a book that will lay your emotions and prejudices bare. It is a book for anyone who thinks --- and it is also good for those who spend there life reacting without thinking --- good writing can improve any mind no matter how bound up in ideological straight jackets --- perhaps we should include this book on a mandatory reading list for all politicians. It is a book for anyone who loves or is loved or wants to be loved. It is a book for anyone who feels anything --- you can not read this book without some emotion rocking and vibrating sympathetically with the events and joys and sufferings of the story. It is not a book just about footbinding --- it is much more than that --- it is a book about the binding of the soul --- how humans distort and deform their relationships with those around them --- how we reject our most natural allies and friends and lovers ---- those around us ---- our own family ---- but in the end there is hope --- the hope that things will improve even if only a little --- the hope that even if it cannot be improved now things can be made a little more tolerable --- with secret solaces and shared dreams and every once in a long while the breath-taking realization of the potential of us all when a true love is allowed to survive . Perhaps it is hidden and must speak in secret languages but once fired love fills the world from the tiniest of places --- there is no need for hope once that love flickers --- even under the greatest tyranny love makes things right.
snowflowerfan More than 1 year ago
Lisa See's Snow Flower and the Secret Fan consists of every emotion: joy, sorrow, grief, and most important, love. Through her vivid diction and unique storyline, the author takes the reader to nineteenth-century rural China. In the course of this novel, Lily, one of the main characters, reminisces stories of her younger days, mainly with her laotong, or "old same", Snow Flower. While Lily's elder sister partakes in the usual sworn sisterhood of four girls that only lasts until marriage, a lifelong laotong match is found for Lily and Snow Flower, causing their bond to overrule every relationship that Lily beholds. Though Lily and Snow Flower share much more than love and friendship, these two girls' bonds are forced to undergo many ordeals as they suffer the effects of jealousy. Though the reader may experience joy from the first chapters of this book, grief soon follows as we convert our minds to the pain of foot-binding that these young girls start experiencing. As the two main characters start maturing over time, we, as readers begin to understand the effect of foot-binding and this laotong relationship on these girls as it helps them settle their future. Ideas of famine, denial, distrust, pressure, poverty, and jealousy are all expressed throughout this one story. This interesting, well-written book will not let you, as a reader, put it down as Lily's each separate memory gives the story more unexpected twists and turns. Not only does See provide an amazing storyline, but she tries to enhance the pleasure of reading this novel by expanding on each little detail. In all, this book is a must-have and will not let you down.
fitz12383 More than 1 year ago
I can't believe I waited so long to read this book. Shame on me. This book was wonderful, lyrical, entertaining - all the makings of a wonderful novel. I was transported to 19th century China as I read the words of Lily and her experiences with footbinding, marriage, and her lifelong friendship (laotong) with Snow Flower. Chinese women in this period of China's history lived a rather secluded life, almost always separated from men. They even had their own written language, nu shu, which is spotlighted throughout the novel. The aspect of the novel that most affected me were the detailed descriptions of the footbinding process that most Chinese girls endured in the early years of their lives. This process was incredibly painful and basically handicapped the woman's movement for the rest of their lives.
GramsE More than 1 year ago
This book was recommended by my adult daughter, whose friends I assume have also read it. I thoroughly enjoyed the level of friendship developed between the two main characters and how it changed as they got older. This was not only enjoyable but enlightening of what the Chinese culture imposed on its girls and women. I've passed my copy on to a friend.
JJK1 More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lisa See's "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" is a beautifully written exploration of the connections that women have over the spans of their lives. It is poignant, disturbing, and spot on regardless of whether the reader is a lover of the 19th century (in which the story is set) or one who favours the contemporary. The disappointments the women of the novel face are simialr to our own; and the burdens that society places on women today are much the same that were placed on women from Lily's time, though in different ways. See's tale begs the question of "what is really different" as it explores the issues of "beauty' and the sacrifices women make to be "beautiful". It approaches the ways in which women demean themselves for the sake of "beauty". Is women's image of beauty cultural or universal,and from whence do we get these notions of what is means to be "beautiful." For See, the answer is that we can all see oursleves as beautiful and if we (as women) would stop judging our sisters we might find happier lives. As well, See allows us to see the absolute determination of women to survive ina ll ways possible. In the end, what we collectivly allow is a universal subjection of ourselves, never recognizing our abilities to be strong and united, and we all contribute to this situation by our own "policing" of other women. Also explored are the notions of family dynamics which (for women) can be oppressive and challenging to say the least. The characters in See's novel may seem distant to the western woman, but read intuitively, her women teach us lessons that should not be ignored. her women live life in the most subtle and charming terms, but they also live life more valiantly and meaningfully than we can imagine. This book SHOULD be on OPRAH"S BOOKLIST . . . it is a MUST for any woman who has a family, children, parental difficulties, and who loves another woman in any fashion. The book is simply a MUST READ for those who love literature whether academically, as a pleasure reader of women's fiction, or for the general reader. A simply amazing piece.
olivia_chrissy More than 1 year ago
Delivered in beautiful layers, resplendent in telling and alive with imagery, history and cultural, magnificent detail that linger long after reading. Hard to put down.
Sweetflower More than 1 year ago
I was very enveloped in the story. I had little knowledge about Chinese culture before reading Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. It was moving and captivating.
Wesker_Chick More than 1 year ago
I fell in love with this book from the moment I picked it up. The relationship between Lily and Snow Flower is truly heartwarming. Listening to Lily describe her life, step by step through all the ups and downs she's experienced is both engrossing and heartwreanching. It's an especially good read if you are even the slightest bit interested in Chinese culture. The chapters in the book, describing the proces of "foot-binding" is so gut wrenching, I came close to tears for these small girls. It was sad and dramatic and in the end makes you think about all the important relationships in your own life. Highly reccommend!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sonia K Worthington Ohio I thought that Snow Flower and the Secret Fan was a great book overall. It had good details that made me want to read more and more. There were only a few things I didn't like about it. But other than that I thought it was a great read. I really like that I learned a lot about Chinese culture and traditions that were practiced back in the day. It made the book more realistic. I thought this information made me more interested in the book. There was information regarding foot binding, weddings, sworn sisters, laotangs and birth giving. It was fascinating learning about the way things happen in different cultures. Although it was interesting to learn about food binding, it was very gruesome. Lisa See (the author) explained things with great detail. She added in the fracturing and breaking of bones that comes with foot binding. She described the pain the girls went through in the process of foot binding. I had to put the book down in the middle of when I was reading this because it was horrific picturing what they were going through. This is one of the things I didn't like at all. I wish Lisa See would have just brushed on the topic of foot binding and just explained what it was instead of digging deep into the details. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan has amazing imagery. As I was reading I saw images of the setting of the story. Lisa See did an exceptional job making the book come alive in her audience's head. She enhanced the story with her explanations. I think this was my favorite part of the book. She wasn't bland with her words but was bright with them. I believe that Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is more appealing to women. That is probably because there are a lot of relationships throughout this book. The two main characters are girls and since they are females they are going to do thing than girls do. If a male asked me for some book recommendations I would probably not tell them to read this book. They might not be able to relate to some things in the book. This book is great for high school students. It might help them realize that if you keep on trying, you will reach your goals. Lily is poor and struggles as a young girl but marries into a good family and becomes a very important women in her marital village. She never gave up as a child and she made it big. Even if you don't like historical fiction I would give this book a try. I was the same way. I honestly thought that this read would be boring and static but it really wasn't. It was interesting and great. When any character died my heart sunk and it was like I knew the characters. I loved this book so much and Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is on my list of the best books I've read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Though I almost quit reading Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by page 40, I now must admit Lisa See has written a remarkably compelling story. It is filled with the history of China, family, friendships, social status issues, women's rights, and the pull of culture and beauty. I continued to read this book, during the day only for quite a few pages, until then I could not put it down. I felt compelled to understand why these women allowed this practice of foot binding to continue - and then personally put their daughters through the same torture. But I think the point of putting this at the beginning of the story was not just chronological order, but for us to understand the strength of will and pull of culture and custom on these 2 girls destined to be matched as Lao Tong by their families. Children in the beginning, we see them grow up together, get married, and help each other through great perils as best they could with a surprising twist to their lives. I reflected on my own Western customs of high heels, women's liberation (not!), cosmetic surgery, lack of family ties and guidance and I was truly drawn into this world, despite its seemingly barbaric ways. Ms. See, who is part Chinese herself, writes in her notes "on the surface, we as American women are independent, free, and mobile, but at our cores we still long for love, friendship, happiness, tranquility and to be heard".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautifully written. Shocking. Full of painful truths and raw emotions. I couldn't put it down!
Magdalena25 More than 1 year ago
A sad story about the plight of women during the food binding period in China. Excellent.
MayandJune More than 1 year ago
I have read other fiction books about early Chinese history, mostly for women but this auther introduced me to new terms and practices. The way the main character matures with her awareness about her life long friend toward the end, is marvelous to witness.
HEDI09 More than 1 year ago
Another triumph for womanhood, that keeps your heart pounding! I agree with all of the positive reviews!!! Another winner in my opinion is E X P L O S I O N I N P A R I S, by LINDA MASEMORE PIRRUNG, a thought- provoking mystery, suspense and love story, fight for survival, life, love and fulfillment...Should be on every woman's book club list!!! I'm totally in love with this book!! Check out the reviews! They'll hook you as they did me! EXPLOSION IN PARIS...An absolute joy to read!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked this book but I didn't get it when she totally disavowed her friend without even talking to her face to face. I wasn't happy with the ending but the rest leading up to it was really fantastic. I loved the way the girls' friendship blossomed and strengthened throughout the years. It's a nice book.
purple06 More than 1 year ago
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, is a beautifully written novel about foot binding in nineteenth- century China. The story depicts the every day life of girls and women in society. The vivid details make for a great story line that is cheerful and haunting at the same time. Once started, this book is impossible to put down.
lynnJA More than 1 year ago
I really liked it, and I cried in multiple parts of the book. The book itself isn't a sad book, meaning that it isn't ment to be a sad book, for example, a book anout someone's brother dying. I really liked it, and thought I ended up giving it to my friend, Stephanie as a birthday present after I read it. The soryline was intresting, and it wasn't boring in any of it. It went from one big event to the next, without too much fluff.The writing style was good, and I it makes you feel like you're in the story with the charictors. I was upset when I found out that time period was all made up, but either way, I would strongly advise reading it.
Kitty_Kimmi More than 1 year ago
In the first chapter of this book it tells of an old women, speaking of her past. If you keep reading you can find out this story takes place in China many years ago. Also you begin to understand how people of china treated women. She tells her story of how footbinding was done, but just to say it wasn't pretty. This story Will take your breath away.-Kitty_Kimmi
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This wonderful little treasure of a book was not an action pact, fast paced read however it was very good and the author threw in historical Chinese practice, endearing characters, a good moral to the story and upredictable turn of events. Every person in my book club enjoyed the book and that doesn't happen often!
Witzy More than 1 year ago
I liked this story a lot. It was engrossing as it was well written and the story evokes a lot of emotion.
english_teacher_39yrs More than 1 year ago
I've yet to talk to a woman who's read this book who when asked about it doesn't flush with pleasure. It has the earmarks of a classic. I taught Women Writers in the 70s and the book that always touched my female students was The Good Earth by Pearl Buck. This is such a book. It could stand by the side of that great feminist novel without apology. If I were still teaching that class, this would be he first novel we'd read. It talks of women, their depth, their history, their friendships, their survival. It's written in a beautiful descriptive style that takes us right into the women's quarters in the last century's China. I have never seen foot binding described like this. My own feet hurt reading about theirs. I cannot recommend this soon to be classic highly enough. If you haven't read it, you're in for an amazing treat!
smarieb More than 1 year ago
I loved this book--the plot, the characters, their flaws. See tells a beautiful story with all its necessary ugliness (footbinding, class differences, death). I hated for the book to end because I felt like I was losing personal friends.
Chelsea_Hannah_Boo More than 1 year ago
This book reminds you of all the hardships people, especially women, have gone through. I found the two main characters very easy to relate to. It is rich with culture, making it even more interesting. It is about love, sisterhood, womanhood, motherhood, and marriage.

I recommend every girl, woman, read this book.