June 1, 2012

Review : Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

Title : Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
Author : Lisa See
Reading Dates : 29 Feb - 18 Mar 2012
Total Pages : 340

From Amazon :
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”). Some girls were paired with laotongs, “old sames,” in emotional matches that lasted throughout their lives. 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.
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is a brilliantly realistic journey back to an era of Chinese history that is as deeply moving as it is sorrowful. With the period detail and deep resonance of Memoirs of a Geisha, this lyrical and emotionally charged novel delves into one of the most mysterious of human relationships: female friendship.

Book Review of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.

I took an unexpectedly long time to finish Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, considering that the story wasn’t badly written. But then, the story has plenty of difficult moments and I felt I needed a certain distance from it.

Almost at the beginning, there was a part of the story which left me feeling sick and utterly grateful I’m born in this time. The pain that particular scene evokes, let’s just say that most horror books I’ve read aren’t as frightening. Learning something about history and reading a fictionalized account of it is definitely very different when it comes to visualizing a thing. Without this book, I’ve certainly never truly considered the pain involved in the foot-binding process.

Then, there’s the way women were thought of in the past. Things might have changed for the better now, but I think we still see it today in certain cultures. And worst is the realization that we women ourselves could be our own jailers. Certainly, I saw it in the behaviour of the women in Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and that has left me thinking about it. It would be easier to think the men were monsters and women the victims but things are never as simple as that.

I’m glad I picked up Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, even if it was for a challenge. This book has certainly left me thinking and grateful for my life.

My conclusions :

  • Would I re-read the book ? Not really, once was enough.
  • Would I want to read the next book in the series if there were one? No. 
  • Would I want to own my personal copy if I didn’t already own it ? No.
  • Who would I recommend this too?Historical fiction fans.
  • For those looking to read the book, would I recommend buying or borrowing the book? Borrow the book.


  1. Would you recommend it to a fifteen year old? I've been wanting to read this, as I enjoy Asian-themed books and historical fiction, but it's been classified as adult fiction. I'm not sure if a young adult like me is "allowed" to read it.

    1. I don't see why not. From what I've read, the book doesn't contain anything a 15 year old shouldn't read.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...