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Snow Flower and the Secret Fan [Paperback]

Lisa See
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (114 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
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Book Description

2 Jan 2007
Lily is the daughter of a humble farmer, and to her family she is just another expensive mouth to feed. Then the local matchmaker delivers startling news: if Lily's feet are bound properly, they will be flawless. In nineteenth-century China, where a woman's eligibility is judged by the shape and size of her feet, this is extraordinary good luck. Lily now has the power to make a good marriage and change the fortunes of her family. To prepare for her new life, she must undergo the agonies of footbinding, learn nu shu, the famed secret women's writing, and make a very special friend, Snow Flower. But a bitter reversal of fortune is about to change everything.

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Snow Flower and the Secret Fan + Peony in Love + Dreams of Joy
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Product details

  • Paperback: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (2 Jan 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747583005
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747583004
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (114 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,194 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Lisa See has written her best book yet ... achingly beautiful, a marvel of imagination of a real and secret world that has only recently disappeared' Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club 'Only the best novelists can do what Lisa See has done, to bring to life not only a character but an entire culture, and a sensibility so strikingly different from our own ... engrossing and completely convincing' Arthur Golden, author of Memoirs of a Geisha 'The wonder of this book is that it takes readers to a place at once foreign and familiar ... Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is a triumph on every level, a beautiful, heartbreaking story' Washington Post 'You can relish See's extraordinary novel as a meticulously researched account of women's lives in nineteenth-century China. But you can also savour See's marvellous narrative as a timeless portrait of a contentious, full-blooded female friendship, one that includes, over several decades, envy, betrayal, erotic love, and deep-seated loyalty' Entertainment Weekly

Book Description

In the vein of Memoirs of a Geisha and Empress Orchid, this mesmerizing novel about two young girls growing up in feudal China is now a major motion picture

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
64 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All women, please read 27 Jan 2006
This is one of the most unforgetable books I've ever read, and I've read several books a week for 50 years! There are many books about China, but this one is based on a custom I had never heard about, that of two young girls binding themselves to each other for life at a very early age. They communicate using a secret language known only to women and meet only rarely.
If you have ever thought your life was difficult, reading this will make you realise how very much more difficult, controlled and full of physical and mental pain were the lives of Chinese women until fairly recently. As a little girl the heroine was allowed outside unfettered only once. Repeatedly told girls were absolutely worthless and unloved by anyone except her sworn friend, her feet are agonizingly bound and she is married to a man she has never seen.
Beautiful and interesting though the descriptions of the culture are, the main theme of the book is the unfolding story of the attachment of the two girls (as the title suggests). The final chapters will live with you for a long time.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Though we often say upon beginning to describe a wonderful book we have just finished: 'this is the best book I have ever read', (and like many, I have used that phrase before) all too often, some time later, we feel the need to say the same again of another book we finish, and so one afterwards is left asking themselves the question: 'what indeed IS the best book I have ever read'? Well, I have no doubt it has to be this!

'Snow Flower And The Secret Fan' was simply wonderful! No book I have ever read made me openly 'weep' through the whole of a chapter... So much so, that I was convinced that these had been 'real' people and had existed. In fact, I wanted to believe it - not sure why when in parts the story was so painful and sad, but perhaps in my subconscious I did not wish to believe that I had been so 'taken in' by fictional people - or by such a talented Writer? The mystery will never be solved, but this novel is simply beautiful...

An early chapter left me feeling somewhat 'disturbed' by its immense detail. Though by nature I am not a 'squeamish' sort of person, I was in fact deeply affected by the chapter that dealt with the whole process of 'footbinding' and the suffering this involved (the breaking of bones in the feet - along with them hanging loosely within the flesh until they 'fused') I found this very difficult and hard-going, and just wanted to get past it... However, the book is also extremely educational for all of us who are ignorant of what these sorts of cultures are about - after all, these things did go on, and so thus it is very informative. I also love a book with 'surprises', and the hard-hitting event surrounding the life of 'Beautiful Moon' that came quite out of the blue got me immediately 'hooked'!
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poignant tale 20 April 2007
"Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" is a suspenseful and poignant novel set in nineteenth century China at a time when foot-binding was practiced and women were kept secluded.

Two women in Hunan province establish a deep friendship as laotongs, "old sames." These are girls that are paired off with each other in a friendship that can last a lifetime. Their bond grows over the years as they struggle with famine, unrest, arranged marriages and motherhood. Their close friendship is threatened when misunderstanding arises between them.

This book offered a glance into women's life in nineteenth century China in an absorbing story. I recommend this book along with The Tenderness of Wolves and Nexus: A Neo Novel.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful 22 Feb 2007
By Lorelei
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Although my heart really wanted a different ending for this wonderful story, I must admit that it is one of the best I've ever read. Reading it was a beautiful journey through time and space. A touching book with characters that seem to be breathe they are so real and capable of evoking such strong emotions. Everything just came to life for me while reading this book. I feel like I have known Snow Flower and Lily almost personally. I felt their joys and their losses.

Thank you to Lisa See for this treat of a novel and for prompting me to find out more about the old Chinese customs and conditions for women, I am learning a great deal.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The two lines of my title for this review, I think, quite aptly sums up what is at the heart of SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN. The quality of being a lady at all times; how you hold true to the traditions of your family and your culture as well as how you remain loyal and dignifed towards your family. But also what it essentially means to be a woman or girl during the time the novel is set in.

SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN is about two young girls growing up in China. As girls, they are seen as worthless to their family - their only worth will be gained from their marriages and their ability to provide sons for their husbands. The two girls, Lily and Snow Flower, are sworn at a young age to become laotong - this is a bond which is reverred between females, seen as being just as important as a marriage between a man and a woman. They are never meant to cross each other, and just as in a marriage, they are only meant to be parted by death. But Lily and Snow Flower are different in their personalities, and they both have a different destiny ahead of them. Lily has perfect bound feet, only 7 centimetres in length, and it is through this that she has managed to procure a good betroval. Snow Flower's future is not so fortunate, and so, as laotong, they both go through emotional and sometimes physical pain relying on each other for strength and encouragement. But life for women is cruel and their friendship shall be tested to the highest degree.

That is a very diluted version of the main parts of the story. Part of the success of SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN is that See has done a fantastic job at recreating Lily and Snow Flower's world. Every step of the way, you are there with them.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Really good
I enjoyed this book a great deal very interesting regarding the historical footbinding and thought provoking about different types of relationship. Read more
Published 9 days ago by gillian copsey
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read, a beautiful story.
Not my usual read, but incredible & unputdownable! Beautifully written; about the secret writings, loves & lives of women and young girls growing up in the terrible foot binding... Read more
Published 22 days ago by Reb
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Book
The subject matter of the book appealed to me and I couldn't put the book down. The story is just amazing!
Published 25 days ago by Victoria
5.0 out of 5 stars must read
This book is clearly based on real happenings and is a fascinating read, even if you blanch at the descriptions of foot-binding and its consequences. Read more
Published 1 month ago by H. Davies
4.0 out of 5 stars My view on this book
I found this book interesting and informative. I enjoyed how it was written and was astounded how little
Time the Chinese children had to play and act as children. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jenny JG
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and enchanting story
Loved the book which shone a light into a little known (to me at any rate) way of life, coupled with chilling historical facts about foot binding and revolution. Those poor women!
Published 1 month ago by Nastrovya
5.0 out of 5 stars Shocking but riveting
A book that opened up a secret world. like so many I was totally ignorant of the life lived by the Chinese in general and women in particular. The book surprised me. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Karen j.
4.0 out of 5 stars "I know a lot about women and their suffering"
Lisa See beautifully captures the life and times of a collection of Chinese girls in the 19th Century with this novel. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Rosemarie
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting but not compelling
I enjoyed the content of this book but felt the facts took over the literary style, it was not an easy read
Published 4 months ago by Mrs. Judith M. Thom
4.0 out of 5 stars Social history for those with a strong stomach, very interesting...
I'm finding this hard to review. At times 'Snow Flower' was impossible to stop listening to (I audio read this), at others it started to seem a little dull. Read more
Published 4 months ago by K. J. Noyes
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