Friday, June 25, 2010

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan - Lisa See

Snow Flower And The Secret Fan
Lisa See
Random House Publishing

The product description:
In nineteenth-century China, in a remote Hunan county, a girl named Lily, at the tender age of seven, is paired with a laotong, an “old same,” in an emotional match that will last a lifetime. The laotong, Snow Flower, introduces herself by sending Lily a silk fan on which she’s written a poem in nu shu, a unique language that Chinese women created in order to communicate in secret, away from the influence of men. As the years pass, Lily and Snow Flower send messages on the fan and compose stories on handkerchiefs, reaching out of isolation to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments. Together they endure the agony of footbinding and reflect upon their arranged marriages, their loneliness, and the joys and tragedies of motherhood. The two find solace in their friendship, developing a bond that keeps their spirits alive. But when a misunderstanding arises, their relationship suddenly threatens to tear apart.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is a captivating journey back to an era of Chinese history that is as deeply moving as it is sorrowful. Now in a deluxe paperback edition complete with an expanded Random House Reader’s Circle guide and an exclusive conversation between Lisa See and her mother, fellow writer Carolyn See, this lyrical and emotionally charged novel is, as the Seattle Times says, “a beautifully drawn portrait of female friendship and power.”
I've been told time after time how good Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is. I think I'm at over a dozen recommendations of the book to me now. Finally I found a copy at the used bookstore last week. Am I glad I did. Lisa See's novel lived up to its reputation. I coudn't put the book down easily last night and finished it first thing this morning (after nearly missing my stop on the bus).

I will say that it is a fairly sad story. Sad, but beautiful at the same time. I feel like the book acted as a window onto nineteenth century village life in China because of the way the author wrote it. The book may be short: 253 pages for the story, but so much is told and described in those pages. Everything that would have made up a woman's life - from childhood and foot-binding to marriage, childbirth and death is retold.

Many Canadians will know what I mean when I refer to a book as a "Heather's Pick". They're books that are picked out and recommended by Heather Reisman - CEO of Indigo Books. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is one of these books, and I really think it deserves that distinction. I call it a five star book, and one that I'm sure that I'm going to be reading again. Lisa See has done a wonderful job writing a book that I can't recommend enough.


Stacy at The Novel Life said...

Thank you for your comment on Royal Reads! If you get a chance you should pick up Innocent Traitor-it's such a great book!
Btw I love Lisa See's writing! I haven't read this one yet (awesome review too!) but I will definitely add it to my stacks and stacks of TBR!

Elena said...

Thanks for the comment and for stopping in Stacy.

Marg said...

I've read all of Lisa See's historical fiction novels and very much enjoyed them. I wasn't quite as keen on the first of her mysteries. Can't wait for her next book which is going to be a sequel to Shanghai Girls.

Elena said...

I'm definitely going to have to give her other books a try, Marg. Probably Peony In Love will be the next of hers that I read.


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