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 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.
Eye opening and an interesting read
I had heard of the practice of foot binding but until reading this book had thought it was just a traditional beauty custom like getting waxed might be to American women. It was shocking to discover the torture these little girls were put through and how deadly the practice was. Enlightening and often sad book.
So Much for the Preview
Ok seriously iTunes! Sometimes your previews for audiobooks is spot on. But not for this book, How can I tell what the book will be like if over 50 percent of the preview is of MUSIC and not the book? Could you please give a better preview.
Interesting book but overly dramatic reading
I found the story very interesting and the prose beautifully written, but the narrator's cheesy, melodramatic voice was quite distracting. I was not a big fan at all. But as for the book itself, the story of Lily and Snow Flower is a lovely one of two women who are contractually bound together as young girls to be "Old Sames," or dearest friends, for their entire lives. Over the years they grow up, get married, have children, and endure life's hardships, sometimes visiting with each other and often writing letters in a secret women's language called nu shu. This is not a particularly fast-paced novel but still has enough action to keep one engaged, and there is a great deal of fascinating detail about Chinese culture in the Nineteenth Century. I enjoyed the book and would have given it a higher rating if not for the narrator.