In 19th-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.
©2005 Lisa See; (P)2005 Random House Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House Inc.
"Engrossing....Both a suspenseful and poignant story and an absorbing historical chronicle." (Publishers Weekly)
Wow. What can I say, other than I LOVED this audiobook?! The narrator was fantastic and the story was a fresh look at common themes: womanhood, friendship, regret, hardship...The historical details were beautifully woven into a touching story that everyone can relate to, even those of us that never lived in 19th Century China and cringe at the mere thought of foot binding. Really, I can't recommend this book any more highly. I cried for the last hour.
As a bonus, the author talks about the book and her writing process at the end of the audiobook.
I loved this book..if you like historical fiction, and you like to learn about different cultures this book is the perfect book. The narrator did a wonderful job,she is one person reading but she changes her voice so cleverly you think she is 10 different characters, the content of the book is also very entertaining, definately worth your time
As far as the story goes it provides an interesting glimpse into 19th century China and the customs of that time. However too much is told, not revealed, and some of the story feels undeveloped. The most negative aspect of the book however was the narrator. Her style, her voice, her emoting: AWFUL.
This is a beautifully told story about the depth of women's friendships. It just happens to be set in China with all the appropriate historic and cultural contexts and subtexts that involves. It is a highly nuanced story, where you have to appreciate cultural implications of a time and a place that is completely different from our own. Like the folds of the fan mentioned in the title, the story unfolds deliberately and delicately. Take the time to enjoy the pacing of the story. It was a thought-provoking story for me.
I really like the atmosphere here, and the mystique surrounding the younger Snow Flower. I also enjoyed it when I found out the truth about her. Also, the descriptions of this culture and its traditions and environment were well done, as was the use of the fan to communicate. The pacing of this story, and the rather unchanging narration were a bit disappointing. The narrator's voice and presentation were engaging enough, so I'm not sure how to pinpoint what made it feel slow; perhaps the plot itself was just a tad slow for me, but I do recognize that this is literary fiction, so it's more character-driven than plot-driven.
The story is beautiful in its simplicity and honesty. There is wisdom here for each of us. It is easy to relate to Snow flower and Lily and I am grateful to have experienced their story. The remarks from the author, at the end, were just as touching as the story itself. Thank you for sharing their story with us!
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