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Snowflower and the Secret Fan

FROM THE AUTHOR’S SITE www.lisasee.com A language kept a secret for a thousand years forms the backdrop for an unforgettable novel of two Chinese women whose friendship and love sustains them through their lives.  This absorbing novel – with a storyline unlike anything Lisa See has written before – takes place in 19th century China when girls had their feet bound, then spent the rest of their lives in seclusion with only a single window from which to see.  Illiterate and isolated, they were not expected to think, be creative, or have emotions. But in one remote county, women developed their own secret code, nu shu – “women’s writing” – the only gender-based written language to have been found in the world.  Some girls were paired as “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 windows to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments.  An old woman tells of her relationship with her “old-same,” their arranged marriages, and the joys and tragedies of motherhood—until a terrible misunderstanding written on their secret fan threatens to tear them apart. With the detail and emotional resonance of Memoirs of a Geisha , Snow Flower and the Secret Fan delves into one of the most mysterious and treasured relationships of all time—female friendship.”

THE BOOK FAERY REVIEWS…What beauty, pain, grief, and understanding you feel once you read this novel by Lisa See.  Within this story you peek into the world of footbinding, arranged marriages, extended families, womanhood, friendships (laotongs & sworn sisters), deceit, marital relationships, the value of and difference between men and women, birth, death, and the knowledge of oneself’s worth.  A story so touching that you weep along with both joy and sorrow as you turn the pages of a past time.  Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is mainly about the laotong relationship (contractual friendship for life) between 2 girls from the age of 7 that will in a sense continue through many generations to follow.  Through the pages you watch them grow from little girls, then young women in marriage, and then finally as older women nearing the end of their life on earth.  You watch this sacred bond that they have grow, diminish, and come back.  You feel anger with the characters during their times of misunderstandings of the other or during pain and suffering both of the heart and body.  You wonder how one can know so much about another yet at the same time know so little.  As you read the words that depict the time, you begin to understand the true value of the woman back then.  As you read, you begin to wonder about your own friendships in life.  You wonder, do they know you, do they love you unconditionally?  Do you even REALLY KNOW them?  Would you love them unconditionally or would you walk away if you felt hurt and betrayed?  Would you become jealous if they found others that seemed to understand them better or would you learn from them to better your relationship?  Will you be there for them even if life pulls you in different directions?  Will you make the time?  Will you realize that what may work for one may not work for the other?  Or will you persuade them to look at it from only your standpoint because of your own experience or what you’ve been taught?  Will you love, comfort, and accept your closest friend today as you should have been doing all along?  For me…I think it’s time…


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