Jessi's Reviews > Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
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Jul 17, 10

bookshelves: audiobook, historical-fiction, womens-fiction
Read in May, 2010

Summary: 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"). 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.

This story is truly a woman's story. The women don't run around challenging their place in life or acting outside of the bonds of their society's role for women. Instead it is a beautiful story of women and friendship and working to make the best of themselves within the restrictions of their world. I enjoyed this story very much the first time around, so when my book club selected it, I decided to give the audiobook a try. The narrator was amazing and listening to it the second time definitely added a unique voice and perspective to the story. I have read some of See's other works and not enjoyed them as much, but I loved this story and will recommend it for many years to come.
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