Michele's Reviews > Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
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Apr 16, 08

Read in February, 2007

An Excellent Choice for Book Clubs

I had a hard time putting down this book and felt utterly transported to a village in the Hunan province in central south China during the early to mid-nineteenth century. The narrator, 80-year-old Lily, who refers to herself as one who has "yet to die," tells the story of her life. She has outlived her family members and relates the story of her formative years--and her relationship with another woman, Snow Flower. This well written tale is related with clarity, sentiment, and most poignantly, remorse. It's through remorse that the reader comes to know the true character of Lily, as she reflects upon a misunderstanding she had with her one true love.

Beyond the reflection of Lily's relationship with Snow Flower, a girl she meets at the age of six when they are introduced by the local matchmaker and tied by contract to forever be known as "laotongs," or "old sames," this story provides a lesson in Chinese history and culture. Many have heard of the tradition of feet binding, but through Lisa See's writing, one experiences the excruciating pain and the meaning behind a mother's duty to bind her "worthless" daughters' feet. It's all about marriage and, of course, sex. At once I went to the Internet to look for images of bound feet because I had a terribly hard time visualizing a foot only seven centimeters in length.

I enjoyed every minute of reading this story and I highly recommend it. I think it would make an excellent selection for book clubs, given the vast number of elements to spark topics of conversation: Chinese culture--past and present; Mother-daughter relationships; Foot-binding; Arranged marriage; Female relationships; Lesbian relationships (?); Chinese history; Chinese foods; Chinese geography, etc.
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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Donna Well said! I enjoyed this book too! Yep, I had to do a google and wikipedia search too on bound feet. :)


Vanessa I loved this book. I see that you mentioned the idea of lesbian relationships in your review. I wondered about that myself, and wonder what other people made of Lily's love for her laotong.


Leanne We read it for our book club, can't wait to talk about it with them next week. I too googled the bound feet. I could not picture what they were doing to these girls or how they could become so small. Amazing and horrible. But a great read!!!


Tammy I am in the process of reading this book. Like all of you, I found myself googling footbinding as well. This a great read so far. I look forward to discussing it at my next book club's meeting next month.


message 5: by Patricia (new) - added it

Patricia Turner I READ THIS book several months ago and found it to be well written , informative and thought provoking. I do not think there was any lesbianism in their love and devotion for one another. A. good read just like THE BEATING OF HEART STRINGS


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