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Staff Picks: Books

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, by Lisa See, takes place in 19th century China and tells the story of two women, Lily and Snow Flower. The girls, as decided by their parents and a matchmaker, become laotong when they are children. Laotong are more than best friends. They are sisters united by similarities such as birthday, foot size, number of siblings, and other factors, and promise to maintain a deep, loving relationship throughout all stages of life. They even write and sign their own laotong contract. Lily narrates hers and Snow Flower’s lives, describing their foot binding, marriages, children, and other significant events that they experience and that test their loyalty to each other and the contract they signed. The two women communicate to each other by writing in nu shu, the secret women’s language, on a fan they pass back and forth. This book illuminates historical Chinese culture and the way women lived during that time while also encompassing complex, universal themes. At times, the novel was not easy to read, due to the injustices against females that I perceived as a modern Western woman. However, I enjoyed Snow Flower and the Secret Fan quite a lot. Those with an interest in other cultures and historical periods should add this one to their reading lists.



Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

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Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, by Lisa See, takes place in 19th century China and tells the story of two women, Lily and Snow Flower. The girls, as decided by their parents and a matchmaker, become laotong when they are children. Laotong are more than best friends. They are sisters united by similarities such as birthday, foot size, number of siblings, and other factors, and promise to maintain a deep, loving relationship throughout all stages of life. They even write and sign their own laotong contract. Lily narrates hers and Snow Flower’s lives, describing their foot binding, marriages, children, and other significant events that they experience and that test their loyalty to each other and the contract they signed. The two women communicate to each other by writing in nu shu, the secret women’s language, on a fan they pass back and forth. This book illuminates historical Chinese culture and the way women lived during that time while also encompassing complex, universal themes. At times, the novel was not easy to read, due to the injustices against females that I perceived as a modern Western woman. However, I enjoyed Snow Flower and the Secret Fan quite a lot. Those with an interest in other cultures and historical periods should add this one to their reading lists.

Posted by Elyse Malnekoff at 08/07/2017 05:37:20 PM