Barbara's Reviews > Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
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's review
Sep 03, 11

bookshelves: asia, historical-fiction
Read in July, 2009

I actually wavered between giving this book a rating of 3 or 4 stars. This is not because Lisa See was unable to portray the life in this feudal Chinese society well, because much of this was vivid and interesting. The oppression of women, including the horrors of footbinding, isolation and servitude to men and one's in-laws were all clearly and often dismayingly illustrated.

One problem with this novel is how much better the tale could have been related if written in the third person, rather than the use of Lily as narrator. After learning throughout this book that she was a sensitive, caring, pledged lifelong friend; she becomes a cruel,selfish and judgemental harridan to Snow Flower. These very factors were so antithetical to what was supposed to have been developed between these two women and what they had always professed would be their relationship, that it was difficult to continue the reading with the same attitude of enjoyment and appreciation. I often found that See did not work hard enough to develop either her plot lines or her characters. She often glossed over some segments, seemingly in order to reach her next period of time.

Despite these criticisms, I found this book often compelling with a level of anticipation for the reader.
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Comments (showing 1-39 of 39) (39 new)

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Cynthia Oh God I loved this book. The heart of it is the girls'/women's friendship. The friend who leant me this one is now reading her latest so hopefully she'll pass that to me soon.


Barbara I have not gotten very far into this book. Can you compare this book to Amy Tan?
Also have you read Gale Tsukiyama? Of course her stories are about Japanese women, but I really admire her writing and loved her books.


Cynthia Tan is more literary, deeper thoughtwise but See has a way of understanding women's hearts, how they need and support one another and, at least in this book, once a true bond is formed, they can forgive the past and re-connect.


Barbara Thanks. I was getting the sense of what you said about the comparison of See and Tan.
Tsukiyama also delves deeply into women's relationships, support and sharing of traumatic events.


Cynthia I'll check her out Babara. Thanks for telling me about her.


Barbara If you do, I would suggest starting with her oldest book and working along that way. They are not sequels, but she devotes her writing to the history before WW2 and the effects upon the women as well as the country around them.


Barbara Thanks for the "Like", Teresa! I wonder how this popped up again after all this time!


Cynthia There's a gr gremlin who finally upchucked some of your reviews!


Barbara I think it's because I decided to add "shelves" today in order to sort my books, rather than keep them all bunched up!


message 10: by Teresa (last edited Jan 22, 2011 04:20PM) (new)

Teresa Barbara wrote: "I think it's because I decided to add "shelves" today in order to sort my books, rather than keep them all bunched up!"

Yep, that will do it. I was rearranging my 'shelves' the other day and I know some books showed up as if they were 'new,' because K.D. commented on one.

Not necessarily a bad thing to happen, because I got a chance to read some of your older reviews.


Barbara Teresa, you are a good Friend!
BTW, I mailed your article. Let me know when it arrives!


message 12: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Barbara wrote: "Teresa, you are a good Friend!
BTW, I mailed your article. Let me know when it arrives!"


Thank you! I sure will.


Cynthia Wait, wait, wait. What article??? Did you write it T? Sorry to butt in guys but I hate missing stuff.


message 14: by Teresa (last edited Jan 23, 2011 10:26AM) (new)

Teresa Cynthia wrote: "Wait, wait, wait. What article??? Did you write it T? Sorry to butt in guys but I hate missing stuff."

The short story by Louise Erdrich that was in The New Yorker. I couldn't access it online, so B is snail-mailing it to me. Very nice of her!

If I'd written it, I'd have made sure you knew all about it, C. ;)


Cynthia Ok. I'll go mind my own business. lol


Barbara C, anything we write here is open to our Friends! :)


message 17: by Teresa (last edited Jan 23, 2011 10:26AM) (new)

Teresa Cynthia wrote: "Ok. I'll go mind my own business. lol"

Don't do that, C! It's more fun when you don't! ;)


message 18: by Lisa (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lisa Teresa wrote: "Barbara wrote: "I think it's because I decided to add "shelves" today in order to sort my books, rather than keep them all bunched up!"

Yep, that will do it. I was rearranging my 'shelves' the ot..."
OMG I'm always re-arranging my shelves and re-naming them and mucking about with them - I didn't realise this would happen and hope you're not all snowed under with repeat notifications - aaagh! (I try to remember to turn off notifications when I'm adding heaps of books, I think I'm getting better at that.)


Cynthia I haven't been getting repeats from you Lisa. And thanks for telling me there's a way to turn off notifications. I didn't know that.


Barbara Thanks, Lisa, I did not even think to do that! I'll try to remember in the future.


message 21: by Lisa (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lisa Barbara wrote: "Thanks, Lisa, I did not even think to do that! I'll try to remember in the future." Phew, that's good. To turn off notifications you go to your account and select from the list. I don't do this often, because I myself like to get most notifications...e.g. when James Paris votes on a list I often visit that list and discover more books that I've read or am interested in, and I love reading the chat etc. It's when someone adds 50 books in a row because that I get a bit tired of it because that squeezes all the other notifications off the page. So I try to remember to turn off when I'm doing that.


Cynthia Does anyone else have a problem viewing some of the updates. I usually don't go to the home page (partly because, as Lisa says, when someone's added lots of new books you having a lot to scroll through). I rely on the grouped update emails and sometimes they're unreadable. They won't completely load esp when there's like 100+ more updates.


message 23: by Teresa (last edited Jan 23, 2011 06:55PM) (new)

Teresa Lisa wrote: "OMG I'm always re-arranging my shelves and re-naming them and mucking about with them - I didn't realise this would happen and hope you're not all snowed under with repeat notifications - aaagh! (I try to remember to turn off notifications when I'm adding heaps of books, I think I'm getting better at that.) "

Like C said, I haven't been getting repeats from you either, Lisa. I didn't explain what I was doing very well. It wasn't my rearranging shelves that put my books out there again; it was my adding a 'review' and/or changing the stars (while I was reshelving) that really did it.


message 24: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Cynthia wrote: "Does anyone else have a problem viewing some of the updates. I usually don't go to the home page (partly because, as Lisa says, when someone's added lots of new books you having a lot to scroll through). I rely on the grouped update emails and sometimes they're unreadable. They won't completely load esp when there's like 100+ more updates. "

I don't get the emails any more for that reason, C. I rely on the home page and I know I miss some stuff that way, but I don't have a better solution.


message 25: by Lisa (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lisa I gave up the emails too, couldn't cope with the flood (and it's not like I have a zillion friends LOL). I use the Home Page (and miss things occasionally, I know). I used to use Notifications in the RH menu bar but then I joined the History group and there is so much traffic from them it drives me crazy. I think I'll have to turn off notifications from them when I go back to work next week & that's going to muck up playing 7-letter Scrabble big-time.


Cynthia T writes: "I don't get the emails any more for that reason, C. I rely on the home page and I know I miss some stuff that way, but I don't have a better solution."

Thanks for letting me know it's not just me or my system. The weird thing is I know I miss things when I can't read the updates vs you feeling you miss stuff when you just check at the site for updates. As you already know I HATE missing stuff.


Cynthia Lisa wrote: "I gave up the emails too, couldn't cope with the flood (and it's not like I have a zillion friends LOL). I use the Home Page (and miss things occasionally, I know). I used to use Notifications in..."

The first step to healing is admiting we have a problem. History and Scrabble!!?? You addict.


message 28: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Cynthia wrote: "The weird thing is I know I miss things when I can't read the updates vs you feeling you miss stuff when you just check at the site for updates. As you already know I HATE missing stuff."

lol

If it's there in front of my face, I'll read it, every detail, compulsively. If it's not there, I'm resigned about not seeing whatever 'it' might be. My coping strategy, I guess.


Cynthia T writes: "If it's there in front of my face, I'll read it, every detail, compulsively. If it's not there, I'm resigned about not seeing whatever 'it' might be. My coping strategy, I guess."

That's so zen. I need to adopt your approach.


message 30: by Lisa (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lisa Cynthia wrote: "Lisa wrote: "I gave up the emails too, couldn't cope with the flood (and it's not like I have a zillion friends LOL). I use the Home Page (and miss things occasionally, I know). I used to use Not..."

History *because of* Scrabble.
Tho' I do really like history, just not so much of it!


Barbara I've been doing Scrabble with Chicks on Lit for a while. It's funny because that is the only involvement I have with that group!

C, I often don't go to the home page. I usually rely on email updates. I try to get most group notices by digest, but that can become burdensome at times too!


message 32: by Maria (new)

Maria I'm totally from the stone age, as i've never done shelves and I just saw this right now & MUST ask you all: in what issue of The New Yorker will I find Erdrich's short story? How could I have missed it?

PS - Barb, this is a terrific review.


Barbara Thanks, Maria.
Erdrich's wonderful story was in the 1/10/11 issue of the New Yorker . I tried to send it to Teresa, but they won't send that particular article or show it online- even though I'm a subscriber!


Barbara Thanks for your "like", KD. It is another reappearance from the past!


message 35: by K.D. (new)

K.D. Absolutely My officemate read this book a couple of years back. I did not follow her advice to read this too because I thought that it was a "girl" book (I was not yet experimenting with different authors that time).


Cynthia It's an incredibly touching story KD. And you'll learn a log about 19th c China....at least it was all new to me.


message 37: by K.D. (new)

K.D. Absolutely Ok. I will borrow this from her. Thanks, C. Have a wonderful weekend my friend.


Cynthia KD when a friend came to me with the book and said, 'you *have to read this' i only took it to be polite. It looked like a romance type books but a few pages in I was hooked.


message 39: by K.D. (new)

K.D. Absolutely Thanks, C. I will heed your advice.


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