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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Powerfully Emotional Story of Friendship and Betrayal
Lisa See's Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is a deeply personal look into the lifelong friendship of two nineteenth-century Chinese women--a friendship that began when they were paired together as laotongs or 'old sames', what we might refer to as 'soul sisters'. Lily and Snow Flower send messages back and forth, written in the secret women's language of nu shu. Hidden in...
Published on Nov. 13 2006 by Cheryl Tardif

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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, yet not fully satisfactory
I really liked the first half of this book- beautiful, new world, and deep, but it became difficult to continue reading till then. I guess the end was clear and not fully satisfactory. But overall, it gave me new insights on Chinese traditions and so on.
Published on Nov. 21 2005


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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Powerfully Emotional Story of Friendship and Betrayal, Nov. 13 2006
This review is from: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: A Novel (Paperback)
Lisa See's Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is a deeply personal look into the lifelong friendship of two nineteenth-century Chinese women--a friendship that began when they were paired together as laotongs or 'old sames', what we might refer to as 'soul sisters'. Lily and Snow Flower send messages back and forth, written in the secret women's language of nu shu. Hidden in the folds of a fan or on delicate handkerchiefs, the messages linked these two women together in a friendship that was more powerful than a marriage.

Through the decades, Lily, the narrator, suffers many hardships and challenges. At the early age of seven, she and her laotong endure the common practice of footbinding. The author paints a vivid picture of this ancient torture, used to determine a girl's worth--especially regarding marriage. Lily and Snow Flower are bound by ritual and by their growing friendship and reliance on one another. And then something happens that rips at the core of their friendship.

Betrayal, misunderstandings and anger lead to hurt feelings and separation. Forgiveness is needed. But can these women learn to forgive and let go of old pain? Or will they let their lifelong friendship die?

This wonderful, loving and tragic story of friendship and betrayal will teach the reader much about Chinese traditions. The stunning description of the lands, the sights and smells, paints vivid images upon the reader's mind. But it is the loving friendship of Lily and Snow Flower that will grip your heart and fill it with yearning to have a laotong of your own. What a powerful and emotional story!

~ Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
[...]
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting look at 19th century China, May 20 2007
By 
Misfit (Seattle, WA USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: A Novel (Paperback)
While the story is a bit slow and drags at time, the look into the relationship between two women who are sworn as children to be lifelong friends, laotong or old sames, is very compelling. And you will learn WAY MORE about the process of foot binding than you ever wanted to know.

Well worth spending a few hours reading about the relationship between these two girls as they matured, married as arranged by their families, and sharing their joys and sorrows.

Four stars for the wonderful depictions of 19th Century life of women in China, three stars for the slow paced storyline.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating but tragic., June 10 2014
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This story was told in such a way that you felt each character's pain & sorrow. I found it educational in the art of foot-binding; I glad that this practise does not continue.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Secret World, Nov. 3 2013
By 
Lyle G. Appleyard "Reading Farmer" (Stonewall, Mb. Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I read this book for a book club meeting I will be attending. I do not think I would have read this book otherwise.

I do not hink that I was the target audience for this book. A story that is albout the secret life of women? I am sure that the author does not mind a man reading it, but women will enjoy the book more. There is only scant mention of the male characters and their names are hardly used.

I did enjoy the book. The author told a wonderful story. The character development. The main character, who narates the story, is very well developed. Through her eyes, we see her intrepretation of the other character, whether correct or not.

The story was very well developed told over many years. There are many themes that the author touches upon. The importantance of a good friend throughout your life. The need for intimacy. That we can learn from others, not matter what each others circumstances might me. The need for honesty in a relationship and how a misinterpreted word can destroy great accomplishment.

WE will have a good discussion at the book club. I am the only male in it. I can see there will be a lot of discussion on the footbinding and what constitutes beauty. I can see discussions on what is expected of a woman in society. Could be a bi of man bashing.

I enjoyed the book. I may not have been the targe
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5.0 out of 5 stars lisa See: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan., Sept. 15 2013
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This review is from: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: A Novel (Paperback)
This book is probably the best of Lisa See's works that I have so far read.
It is a biography of a Chinese girl from 19th century China. She comes from what we would call the lower middle class, and lives in a remote area of southern Hunan province. She lives a traditional life of bound feet, arranged marriages, and complete subservience to fathers, husbands and sons.
Foot binding started at about 6 years of age, and every tenth girl died from this attempt to stop the feet from growing by breaking bones and creating small, tiny feet for a mature woman. This seemed to be the highest aphrodisiac for men and the way to a good marriage or to a marriage at all. Marriages were arranged very early, and girls were constantly assured of their unworthiness and told what a burden they were for their families. The birth of a girl was always unwelcome, as everyone wanted to have only sons and more sons still.
Partnership in a marriage was not to be hoped for, so the only way to any intimacy for a woman was a bosom friend, the "same sames", other girls, who would become friends for life. It was not just anyone, who can be your LAOTONG, or the same same; there had to be signs, like the height, date of birth and many other things to concur.
All pre-pubertal girls in the world want to have a reliable girl friend, but in the highly class conscious society of old China, even such a relationship had to be half legal, arranged by a professional person, who had similar duties to those of a matchmaker.
The oppressed women of the time and place even created their own language, which, actually, was already old in the 19th century.
The heroine Lily, during her long life, rose much higher in the social scale than her laotong Snow Flower, while in their childhood it had been otherwise. As the relationship with Snow Flower was the most important thing which happened in Lily's life, she became jealous when it seemed that later in life, Snow Flower found other new friendships. Neither riches, social standing, husband, nor children were as important as the first emotional attachment.
In spite of all the tragedy, the book is gentle, well written, full of flowers and the spring-like feelings.
It is lovely reading.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Read for the Howdenvale Bookers, May 17 2013
This review is from: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: A Novel (Paperback)
We enjoyed this book, it was well written and it was a book that provided some knowledge on the chinese culture and traditions. It prompted some gals to go on line to research foot binding images, and examples of nu shu writings. Who knew that there are 50,000 characters in the chinese written language and in the woman's nu shu there are 600 phonetic characters which make up 10,000 words. Many of our club enjoy novels which provide information. The characters of the novel and their relationships with each other provided some really good discussion.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read. This book provides an understanding of common persons perspective of the onset of Communist China., May 14 2013
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An excellent book to read and recommend to your friends. It needs to be followed by "Dreams of Joy: to bring the story to a complete end.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Poignant Tale of Friendship and Betrayal, March 15 2012
This review is from: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: A Novel (Paperback)
What a beautifully written, poignant tale of women's life in China in the 1800's. I absolutely adored this book and found myself completely swept away by the lifestyle and culture so delicately presented. The detail in parts was shocking, such as when the girls foot binding began, while the setting and strict cultural traditions are vividly embedded on every page.

The real greatness of this story, however, is the intimate relationship between the laotongs, or "old sames," Lily and Snow Flower. A tale of true friendship, this story emphasizes the importance of trust, openness, and, ultimately, forgiveness, as the two girls grow into women and experience love, loss, and motherhood.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and engaging, Jan. 25 2010
By 
Prairie Girl (Alberta, Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
What I like about this book is that the topic is totally new for me--secret female writing shared amongst Chinese women. I also liked that although the story takes place in the 1800's, the language is modern and easy to read. You learn a lot about Chinese culture in this book without it feeling like a text book. The book is longer than it appears because the font is very small.

The language is at once harsh and beautiful. The names of the girls--Lily, Snow Flower, Beautiful Moon, etc--are so soft and beautiful, and yet, what they experience--foot binding, arranged marriages, being "a worthless girl"--is so harsh and heartbreaking.

The story centers around Lily and Snowflower, her "old same"-- a girl matched to her to be friends for life. The story follows their growth from young women to old age, and how their friendship changes and develops. The girls write to each other in nu shu--female writing shared and known only by females--and exchange messages back and forth. While they are matched as "old sames" their lives go on to take very different paths.

I found the story interesting and informative, a refreshing break from everything else I have been reading lately.

Amazon has a "look inside" feature on this book with quite a substantial excerpt--check it out, and if you find yourself reading the whole thing (as I did) give it a buy!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Snow Flower and the secret fan, Dec 6 2010
This review is from: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: A Novel (Paperback)
The author instantly transports you into another time and world unknown to you. It feels as though you see first hand of everlasting friendship and the ancient traditions of another culture. You can almost imagine certain moments in the book as if you were there. It is facinating reading about everything women of that era went through their entire lives and how the two friends intwined their fates together. This is a excellent book and is one of my favorites from the author.
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Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: A Novel
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: A Novel by Lisa See (Paperback - Feb. 21 2006)
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