As many of you may know, I am no longer a New Yorker, so please check out my new blog A Library of My Own. If you are just reading Life and Times, you are missing out. Thanks!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

A big thanks to Books. Lists. Life. for sending Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See to me.

How to start this review. This book was completely touching and a bit heart rendering. Bittersweet. I liked it.

The story is narrated by Lily, an old lady looking back on her life in 19th Century rural China. And while Lily had other relationships, this book is about her relationship with Snow Flower, her laotong or "old sames". It's basically an arranged friendship...more than a best friend. A laotong is supposed to know you more than your husband or family knows you. And the relationship will last a lifetime. And while they are often together in the story, when they are apart they communicate through a secret form of women's writing called nu shu. They record in nu shu their lives most important moments on a fan which they treasure.

So the book follows the girls through footbinding (an intense section of the book which often made me queasy), arranged marriages, births, deaths, and just life. So while the book is a great picture into 19th Century's really about relationships. And those inevitable regrets that some women often find having looked back on a lifetime.

Lisa See's writing really is beautiful and her research amazing. I loved reading the back portion of the book about her travels to rural China, meeting one of the last women who went through footbinding and wrote in nu shu. Lisa See's newer book, Peony in Love is about Lily's grandaughter Peony. I'm going to have to check that out soon.

And because I love book covers and these are so beautiful:

Also Reviewed by:
S. Krishna's Books
Bloody Hell, It's a Book Barrage!
Devourer of Books
Reading Derby
Book Haven
Trish's Reading Nook
Books. Lists. Life.
The Biblio Brat
A Striped Armchair
Book Nut
Historical Tapestry
Fyrefly's Book Blog
Today's Adventure
A Bookshelf Monstrosity


  1. I read this waaaaaaay back at the beginning of the year (review here, and while I though it did a very excellent job at immersing me into its world and Chinese culture, by the end of the book there was a fair-sized part of me that just wanted to slap Lily and Snow Flower for being annoying.

  2. I was going to buy this book today partly because of how beautiful the cover was!! Your review has convinced me now.

  3. I love book cover art as well. Those are really pretty. The whole foot binding thing makes me cringe. Oh, your trip is coming up soon. Aren't you so excited?!?!

  4. Welcome to NY....Check out my blog.

  5. Yeah, the footbinding chapter of the book is hard to read, although completely fascinating. Lisa See is a talented writer for sure.

  6. This was my favorite book the year I read it. Such an amazing story. I am glad you enjoyed it too.

  7. I love how you always include the different book covers--this one certainly had a lot of lovely ones. Glad you liked the book.


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