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Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

A Novel
By: Lisa See
Narrated by: Jodi Long
Length: 5 hrs and 1 min
Categories: Fiction, Historical
4 out of 5 stars (183 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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.

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 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.

©2005 Lisa See (P)2005 Random House Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Engrossing....Both a suspenseful and poignant story and an absorbing historical chronicle." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

This is an abridged book!

This book grabbed me from page one and my only disappointment is on how quickly it was over. I loved it. However, after finishing it, I found another version on audible that is 11+ hours long! I've returned this one and begun listening to the full length. Definitely find the longer one & listen to that one. Excellent story!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mary
  • Bellevue, NE, USA
  • 07-16-06

Awesome Book

I absoluttely loved this book!! The narrator was very good, and I couldn't stop listening. Awesome book in my opinion.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Fantastic Story, Total Tear Jerker!

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Great Read !!!

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

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Claire
  • Indianapolis, IN, USA
  • 07-05-05

So so

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.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Book vs Audio

The audio version skips multiple paragraphs throughout the whole book. I like reading from a hard copy and listening at the same time, and it’s one of the hardest things to do with this audio. Very annoying. But the book itself is good

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • AM
  • 02-24-14

Delicate, powerful and nuanced

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Had some nice moments, but a little flat sometimes

What did you like best about Snow Flower and the Secret Fan? What did you like least?

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Brilliant read with great impact.

Full of insight into women's relationships far beyond a single culture. I found insight into my own long relationships with te women in my life. Very moving.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Fascinating

Loved this story. Fascinating culture. I was engaged from beginning to ending. Very Well
Written.