Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan PDF Í and the

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan ❮PDF / Epub❯ ★ Snow Flower and the Secret Fan ✓ Author Lisa See – Polishdarling.co.uk In nineteenth century China, in a remote Hunan county, a girl named Lily, at the tender age of seven, is paired with a laotong, old same, in an emotional match that will last a lifetime The laotong, S In nineteenth century China, in a and the PDF/EPUB ä remote Hunan county, a girl named Lily, at the tender age of seven, is paired with a laotong, old same, in an emotional match that will last a Snow Flower PDF \ lifetime The laotong, Snow Flower, introduces herself by sending Lily a silk fan on which she s painted a poem in nu shu, a unique language that Chinese women created in order to communicate in Flower and the Kindle Ð secret, away from the influence of menAs the years pass, Lily and Snow Flower send messages on fans, compose stories on handkerchiefs, reaching out of isolation to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments Together, they endure the agony of foot binding, and reflect upon their arranged marriages, shared 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 deep friendship suddenly threatens to tear apart.


About the Author: Lisa See

Lisa See is a Chinese American and the PDF/EPUB ä author Her books include Snow Flower and the Secret Fan , Dragon Bones, and On Gold Mountain She was named the National Woman of the Year, Snow Flower PDF \ by the Organization of Chinese American Women She lives in Los Angeles.



10 thoughts on “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

  1. Jeana Jeana says:

    Wow I just finished this book and wanted to come write about it immediately so I don t forget how it made me feel First off, the language is beautiful and so fitting for the context The two girls Snow Flower and Lily have a friendship that is beautiful and is fun to pick out little pieces from my own childhood current friendships that I recognize and adore My next thoughts are not necessarily critiques of the book, but of the way the Chinese thought I had a real problem with hearing over Wow I just finished this book and wanted to come write about it immediately so I don t forget how it made me feel First off, the language is beautiful and so fitting for the context The two girls Snow Flower and Lily have a friendship that is beautiful and is fun to pick out little pieces from my own childhood current friendships that I recognize and adore My next thoughts are not necessarily critiques of the book, but of the way the Chinese thought I had a real problem with hearing over and over how worthless a woman is if she cannot produce a son If that were still the case, I would be as worthless as they come It bothered me that daughters were considered better off if they died than to live And I thought Lily perpetuated that as unfeeling as the patriarchs who instilled that thought process to begin with And don t get me started on footbinding I know this is a cultural thing that I cannot begin to comprehend such as people who think that is just the way life is, but still, how could they not think this through I mean, one of of ten girls died from footbinding And not only does it make the foot look grotesque which they thought was beautiful but they were practically crippled for the rest of their lives They had to be carried most distances after the age of six It s simply ridiculous But reading this book made me want to learn to embroider I know it sounds ridiculous but I was actually looking for embroidery classes in the area where I could learn how to do it And I want to do it with my daughter The visual of these women embroidering together It s just beautiful There were so many beautiful quotes that I thought I d list my favorites This thought is a real comfort to me Everyone knows that part of the spirit descends to the afterworld, while part of it remains with the family, but we have a special belief about the spirit of a young woman who has died before her marriage that goes contrary to this She comes back to prey upon other unmarried girls not to scare them but to take them to the afterworld with her so she might have company This is particarly interesting to me because after my daughter died, Biance would tell me about going to heaven with Miranda every night while she dreamed Another quote I liked about teachers The classics tell us that, in relationships, the one between teacher and student comes second only to the one between parent and child The last one is a bit lengthy, but I like it nonetheless If it is perfectly acceptable for a widow to disfigure herself or commit suicide to save face for her husband s family, why should a mother not be moved to extreme action by the loss of a child or children We are their caretakers We love them We nurse them when they are sick But no woman should live longer than her children It is against the law of nature If she does, why wouldn t she wish to leap from a cliff, hang from a branch, or swallow lye Overall, this was a sad, beautiful book


  2. Erika Erika says:

    I had high hopes for this book, but ended up feeling deflated and disappointed Two aspects of the book were interesting descriptions of the practice of Chinese footbinding, and an exploration of nu shu, the written language Chinese women developed to communicate exclusively with each other Unfortunately, the book also has two major problems a boring story, and the use of cheap gimmicks instead of complex characterization The story deals with two girls who are matched as old sames, sort I had high hopes for this book, but ended up feeling deflated and disappointed Two aspects of the book were interesting descriptions of the practice of Chinese footbinding, and an exploration of nu shu, the written language Chinese women developed to communicate exclusively with each other Unfortunately, the book also has two major problems a boring story, and the use of cheap gimmicks instead of complex characterization The story deals with two girls who are matched as old sames, sort of a best girlfriend relationship that is meant to last for life Unfortunately, the story of their friendship is just not compelling, and I kept feeling like the author missed the opportunity to tell a really interesting story within the context of the world she creates Aside from being boring the worst sin in fiction I was also disappointed with the way she handled the intimacy of the friendship between the two women, using what I call the cheap and easy Hollywood method for showing intimacy In other words, she introduces sexual elements to show us just how close these two women really are, rather than really taking us inside the complex world that is the relationship between two best girlfriends I thought it was a really shallow treatment of a very deep subject It was hugely disappointing.I don t recommend it


  3. Cassy Cassy says:

    My grandmother used to say that my big feet meant I had a good foundation I d stare longingly at her size six feet when she said this and curse my genetic inheritance from elsewhere in the family tree Then I had an ex boyfriend make the infuriating statement that rich women have small feet I pointed out that his celebrity crush, Paris Hilton yeah, another reason I dumped him has huge size eleven feet My teenage self took a lot of comfort in the fact that foot size is pre ordained and unc My grandmother used to say that my big feet meant I had a good foundation I d stare longingly at her size six feet when she said this and curse my genetic inheritance from elsewhere in the family tree Then I had an ex boyfriend make the infuriating statement that rich women have small feet I pointed out that his celebrity crush, Paris Hilton yeah, another reason I dumped him has huge size eleven feet My teenage self took a lot of comfort in the fact that foot size is pre ordained and unchangeable Clown sized feet can strike the smart, the rich, the beautiful And there isn t a damned thing they or I could do about it.Then I read this book and learn it is possible to change your foot size It s called foot binding And you know what I ll pass I enjoy being able to wiggle my toes and jump around So, thank you, Lisa See For once in my life, I am content with my big feet And I owe it all to your graphic descriptions of this ancient Chinese method Blood, putrefaction, pain, breaking bones, risk of death I cannot believe those women were subjected to such brutal mutilation for the sake of beauty Then they were still expected to clean the house perched on those tiny, unstable feet.The foot binding portion of the book was the highlight for me The inspiration for the book was nu shu, a written language developed by Chinese women and kept secret from men for hundreds of years Yawn I didn t find that part of the story very compelling or even believable Didn t men wonder why the ladies kept ink and brushes in their room Beyond the foot biding event and nu shu device, this was really a story about a female friendship that was deep and even erotic at times Putting aside any problems with the plot, their emotions toward each other were complex and meaningful There was hope and joy, but mostly there was pain During an event with Lisa last night, she spoke of how depressing writing can be She doesn t always wake up raring to write Instead she may dread knowing she has to go to a dark, internal place to write about a character s death or betrayal Even worse, she may have to stay in that mindset for days or weeks until that section is completely written I spend so much time glamorizing a writer s lifestyle that I had not fully considered how emotionally draining it could be I suspected the career engenders self doubt Will people like what I ve written Yet, I had never thought about the struggle Lisa described to create and inhabit the internal emotional environment necessary to produce the actual words.I commend Lisa for giving us a realistic look at the treatment of and expectations for women in that day and age Women were isolated and undervalued Their worth was determined solely by whether they could produce sons But honestly, my main complaint about the book is how depressing it was I kept waiting for some great act of heroism Yet the women stuck to their traditional roles The main character not only repeated the indoctrination, she believed it My role in life is to obey, obey, obey Sure, they rebelled in small ways, but always within the confines of their societal roles I kept routing for one character to leave an abusive husband or, at very least, stand up to her oppressive mother in law Normally I criticize authors for deviating from historical facts in order to cater to a modern readership This time, I think Lisa stayed so true to the setting that she turned me off And her heavy handed foreshadowing didn t help Life was hard for women back then I get it But does that make for an enjoyable read Not really And I think that was my problem I had the wrong expectations as I entered this book It wasn t a sprawling historical epic, filled with exciting action, heart fluttering romance, and distant voyages like Shogun one of the few other historical fictions I have read that are set in Asia It was a largely quiet book about quiet life Lisa herself admitted she writes sad books And when she started this book, no one thought it would be successful China Women Gloom No one will read that Well, she proved them wrong Lots of people read it Heck, I read it Evenpeople will probably see the movie.And it s worth reading It made me appreciate the freedom women enjoy today, as well as the potential depth of female friendship Not to mention, I m looking down at my feet right now and thinking, hell yeah, that s one beautiful, ergonomic piece of evolution and just the right size


  4. Candi Candi says:

    For my entire life I longed for love I knew it was not right for me as a girl and later as a woman to want or expect it, but I did, and this unjustified desire has been at the root of every problem I have experienced in my life What a sad yet beautiful book this was I adore historical fiction that can really immerse me in another time and place and Snow Flower and the Secret Fan did just that Transported back to 19th century China, I believe I arrived at a better understanding of a womaFor my entire life I longed for love I knew it was not right for me as a girl and later as a woman to want or expect it, but I did, and this unjustified desire has been at the root of every problem I have experienced in my life What a sad yet beautiful book this was I adore historical fiction that can really immerse me in another time and place and Snow Flower and the Secret Fan did just that Transported back to 19th century China, I believe I arrived at a better understanding of a woman s position in this society I learned what it was like to be a daughter, a sister, a wife and a daughter in law I am admittedly grateful for not ever having to experience these often overwhelmingly harsh relationships in the way that these women did Not for an instant can I imagine having to yearn for my mother s love with the feeling that it was something impossible to attain And, I most certainly could not fathom bending to my mother in law s every command and needing to act as a lowly visitor in her home even as the wife of her own son The cultural practice of footbinding was truly horrific and cringeworthy If you, like me, decide to google any images, please consider yourself forewarned that it really does look as awful and disfiguring as you would no doubt imagine Yet, a young girl s future and her marriageability depended heavily on the result of this archaic practice The one relationship that I found endearing and one that transcends both time and culture is that of a true friendship This is so beautifully demonstrated in the bond between the narrator, Lily, and Snow Flower, her old same Lisa See really brings to life the nuances of their lifelong friendship which began as little girls with a contract sealing their fates in a laotong relationshipA laotong match is as significant as a good marriage A laotong relationship is made by choice for the purpose of emotional companionship and eternal fidelity A marriage is not made by choice and has only one purpose to have sonsWe see the girls grow up together and experience the joys of childhood friendship laughing, dreaming, and mourning together The women s secret form of writing, or nu shu, begins with the communication between the little girls on the folds of a special fan that will provide a chronicle of their extraordinary relationship throughout their lives As married women, they experience both the happiness and the sorrow of giving birth and living under the heavy thumbs of their husbands and mothers in law in households that scorn rather than cherish them And, as with some friendships, these women experience the differences in social standings within a community and suffer from misunderstandings and ultimate betrayal Can a friendship really withstand anything This is a wonderful book for anyone interested in the culture of China during this period and those that enjoy reading about the various connections between women If you ve ever had a true friend, this book will truly speak to you and perhaps make you just a tad nostalgic about the carefree days when you could hope and giggle with your own bestie


  5. Dem Dem says:

    A book is a magical thing, that lets you travel to far away places without ever leaving your chairQuote by Katrina Mayer This week I have time travelled to nineteenth century China, 1970s Texas, 1850s Louisiana and at the moment I am on a whistle stop tour with A Traveller at the Gates of Wisdom by John Boyne and no 2 week isolation required when I return Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is my second novel by Lisa See having read Shanghai Girls a couple of years ago Set in Nineteenth CA book is a magical thing, that lets you travel to far away places without ever leaving your chairQuote by Katrina Mayer This week I have time travelled to nineteenth century China, 1970s Texas, 1850s Louisiana and at the moment I am on a whistle stop tour with A Traveller at the Gates of Wisdom by John Boyne and no 2 week isolation required when I return Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is my second novel by Lisa See having read Shanghai Girls a couple of years ago Set in Nineteenth Century China and is the story of Lily an 80 year old woman who at the age of seven is paired with a laotong old same in an emotional match that will last a lifetime Her story is that of a secret world of writings that women shared and ancient Chinese customs of foot binding.An emotional and fascinating read and you cant help get drawn into the characters lives I love when a book educates as well as entertains a reader and this novel has a lot of detail on Chinese customs and culture which I really enjoyed A short book that really held my attention and another book for my real life book shelf


  6. Michele Michele says:

    An Excellent Choice for Book Clubs I had a hard time putting down this book and felt utterly transported to a village in the Hunan province in central south China during the early to mid nineteenth century The narrator, 80 year old Lily, who refers to herself as one who has yet to die, tells the story of her life She has outlived her family members and relates the story of her formative years and her relationship with another woman, Snow Flower This well written tale is related with clarit An Excellent Choice for Book Clubs I had a hard time putting down this book and felt utterly transported to a village in the Hunan province in central south China during the early to mid nineteenth century The narrator, 80 year old Lily, who refers to herself as one who has yet to die, tells the story of her life She has outlived her family members and relates the story of her formative years and her relationship with another woman, Snow Flower This well written tale is related with clarity, sentiment, and most poignantly, remorse It s through remorse that the reader comes to know the true character of Lily, as she reflects upon a misunderstanding she had with her one true love.Beyond the reflection of Lily s relationship with Snow Flower, a girl she meets at the age of six when they are introduced by the local matchmaker and tied by contract to forever be known as laotongs, or old sames, this story provides a lesson in Chinese history and culture Many have heard of the tradition of feet binding, but through Lisa See s writing, one experiences the excruciating pain and the meaning behind a mother s duty to bind her worthless daughters feet It s all about marriage and, of course, sex At once I went to the Internet to look for images of bound feet because I had a terribly hard time visualizing a foot only seven centimeters in length.I enjoyed every minute of reading this story and I highly recommend it I think it would make an excellent selection for book clubs, given the vast number of elements to spark topics of conversation Chinese culture past and present Mother daughter relationships Foot binding Arranged marriage Female relationships Lesbian relationships Chinese history Chinese foods Chinese geography, etc


  7. Petra-X Petra-X says:

    I tried to read it It was so non compelling, who were these little mice of women, what were they up to, why should I care MAKE ME CARE The plot didn t, the characters didn t and so I couldn t get past about page 50 My mind kept drifting off and by the time I was conscious of reading again I wouldn t know what had happened so I had to reread it again and again up unto the fourth rereading of the same pages Exactly the same experience I had with Rushdie s Satanic Verses So I gave up I tho I tried to read it It was so non compelling, who were these little mice of women, what were they up to, why should I care MAKE ME CARE The plot didn t, the characters didn t and so I couldn t get past about page 50 My mind kept drifting off and by the time I was conscious of reading again I wouldn t know what had happened so I had to reread it again and again up unto the fourth rereading of the same pages Exactly the same experience I had with Rushdie s Satanic Verses So I gave up I thought it was probably me and not the book, so I downloaded the film Lord, was it bad or what Exactly the same experience, it wasn t anyinteresting It s an experience I m not going to have with the Satanic Verses though I doubt there s a director still alive brave enough to make a film of that book


  8. Rowena Rowena says:

    This has got to be one of the most beautiful, yet heartbreaking books that I have ever read The subject matter is horrific but the story is truly engaging.The main storyline in this book is about the horrible patriarchal practise, foot binding, that took place in China in the past The graphic descriptions in this book are certain to turn anyone s stomach I would like to know who decided that 7 centimetre long feet were sexy The obsession with feet truly perplexed me how could young men kn This has got to be one of the most beautiful, yet heartbreaking books that I have ever read The subject matter is horrific but the story is truly engaging.The main storyline in this book is about the horrible patriarchal practise, foot binding, that took place in China in the past The graphic descriptions in this book are certain to turn anyone s stomach I would like to know who decided that 7 centimetre long feet were sexy The obsession with feet truly perplexed me how could young men know nothing about their future betrothed wives except what size their feet were Obviously foot binding was a practice to control women, which was a point I made to a feminist I was talking to when a man suddenly interrupted our conversation and accused us of waging a war against men Also, it s so sad how culturally women were undervalued in Chinese society They suffered so much abuse and, from a very young age, they were cultivated for marriage because, after all, all women were good for was for giving birth to sons Everything they did was to prepare them for marriage yet when they eventually married their in laws weren t even satisfied and everyone was miserable What s the point Excuse my sarcastic tone but I cannot wrap my head around how awful this part of Chinese history is Instead of protecting women in society, women were made to feel worthless and their lives are also put into peril It was truly heartbreaking Lisa See brilliantly captured the reality of Chinese life in the past I also thought that part of the book about the laotang and sisterhood was lovely, as well as the parts about the secret writing, and the art of storytelling Definitely a great book but not one that I d ever read again, it s too distressing


  9. Lisa Vegan Lisa Vegan says:

    I ended up enjoying this book because it was so beautifully written and it took me deep into a world so unlike my own thank goodness for that This story takes place in China s Hunan Province in the 1800s and isabout the inner lives of the women than the men I had a complete misconception of what foot binding entailed It s completely different, and so muchbrutal a practice than I ever could have imagined There were also many examples given of what I consider other horrendous cust I ended up enjoying this book because it was so beautifully written and it took me deep into a world so unlike my own thank goodness for that This story takes place in China s Hunan Province in the 1800s and isabout the inner lives of the women than the men I had a complete misconception of what foot binding entailed It s completely different, and so muchbrutal a practice than I ever could have imagined There were also many examples given of what I consider other horrendous customs and beliefs I ve always believed that tradition and culture that harms is not worth preserving and reading about these people s lives was a painful experience The story is fiction but well researched so I m assuming there was much truth about how women led their lives in that time and place I was able to feel some empathy for the storywriter, because I could understand her longing to be loved and the difficulties she had in her upbringing that formed her personality, even though I sometimes had a hard time liking her and many of the characters I was also irritated by so much of the book I loathe stories where there s a horrible miscommunication or misunderstanding that seems so unnecessary, and there s an example of that here Also, throughout the book, the narrator is writing the story of her life for another others in her culture to read, yet the whole time I felt she was educating us in our time places So frequently the line as you know or as everyone knows is used to start a sentence, and I just kept thinking that if everyone knows it the narrator wouldn t need to say it in that way The narrator also most of the way through the book alludes to something she s going to tell the reader and it got to the point where, instead of following along with the story, I just wanted to see what she was going to reveal.I think that it s worth it to read the paperback copy because of Lisa See s notes at the end about the writing of this book, Perhaps they were there in the hardcover version as well, but often additions such as this aren t there at publication of the hardcover edition Also, the paperback has some discussion questions at the end which might come in handy as I read this book for my book club.The plot characters did make me think about however women are regarded and what is considered beautiful in various cultures, including our own, can powerfully influence women s lives And they also highlight how our various expectations of ourselves and others imposed by our societies can influence human beings It also made me think a lot about the corrosive power of unresolved anger and trauma


  10. Barbara H Barbara H says:

    I actually wavered between giving this book a rating of 3 or 4 stars This is not because Lisa See was unable to portray the life in this feudal Chinese society well, because much of this was vivid and interesting The oppression of women, including the horrors of footbinding, isolation and servitude to men and one s in laws were all clearly and often dismayingly illustrated.One problem with this novel is how much better the tale could have been related if written in the third person, rather tha I actually wavered between giving this book a rating of 3 or 4 stars This is not because Lisa See was unable to portray the life in this feudal Chinese society well, because much of this was vivid and interesting The oppression of women, including the horrors of footbinding, isolation and servitude to men and one s in laws were all clearly and often dismayingly illustrated.One problem with this novel is how much better the tale could have been related if written in the third person, rather than the use of Lily as narrator After learning throughout this book that she was a sensitive, caring, pledged lifelong friend she becomes a cruel,selfish and judgemental harridan to Snow Flower These very factors were so antithetical to what was supposed to have been developed between these two women and what they had always professed would be their relationship, that it was difficult to continue the reading with the same attitude of enjoyment and appreciation I often found that See did not work hard enough to develop either her plot lines or her characters She often glossed over some segments, seemingly in order to reach her next period of time.Despite these criticisms, I found this book often compelling with a level of anticipation for the reader


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10 thoughts on “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

  1. Jeana Jeana says:

    Wow I just finished this book and wanted to come write about it immediately so I don t forget how it made me feel First off, the language is beautiful and so fitting for the context The two girls Snow Flower and Lily have a friendship that is beautiful and is fun to pick out little pieces from my own childhood current friendships that I recognize and adore My next thoughts are not necessarily critiques of the book, but of the way the Chinese thought I had a real problem with hearing over Wow I just finished this book and wanted to come write about it immediately so I don t forget how it made me feel First off, the language is beautiful and so fitting for the context The two girls Snow Flower and Lily have a friendship that is beautiful and is fun to pick out little pieces from my own childhood current friendships that I recognize and adore My next thoughts are not necessarily critiques of the book, but of the way the Chinese thought I had a real problem with hearing over and over how worthless a woman is if she cannot produce a son If that were still the case, I would be as worthless as they come It bothered me that daughters were considered better off if they died than to live And I thought Lily perpetuated that as unfeeling as the patriarchs who instilled that thought process to begin with And don t get me started on footbinding I know this is a cultural thing that I cannot begin to comprehend such as people who think that is just the way life is, but still, how could they not think this through I mean, one of of ten girls died from footbinding And not only does it make the foot look grotesque which they thought was beautiful but they were practically crippled for the rest of their lives They had to be carried most distances after the age of six It s simply ridiculous But reading this book made me want to learn to embroider I know it sounds ridiculous but I was actually looking for embroidery classes in the area where I could learn how to do it And I want to do it with my daughter The visual of these women embroidering together It s just beautiful There were so many beautiful quotes that I thought I d list my favorites This thought is a real comfort to me Everyone knows that part of the spirit descends to the afterworld, while part of it remains with the family, but we have a special belief about the spirit of a young woman who has died before her marriage that goes contrary to this She comes back to prey upon other unmarried girls not to scare them but to take them to the afterworld with her so she might have company This is particarly interesting to me because after my daughter died, Biance would tell me about going to heaven with Miranda every night while she dreamed Another quote I liked about teachers The classics tell us that, in relationships, the one between teacher and student comes second only to the one between parent and child The last one is a bit lengthy, but I like it nonetheless If it is perfectly acceptable for a widow to disfigure herself or commit suicide to save face for her husband s family, why should a mother not be moved to extreme action by the loss of a child or children We are their caretakers We love them We nurse them when they are sick But no woman should live longer than her children It is against the law of nature If she does, why wouldn t she wish to leap from a cliff, hang from a branch, or swallow lye Overall, this was a sad, beautiful book


  2. Erika Erika says:

    I had high hopes for this book, but ended up feeling deflated and disappointed Two aspects of the book were interesting descriptions of the practice of Chinese footbinding, and an exploration of nu shu, the written language Chinese women developed to communicate exclusively with each other Unfortunately, the book also has two major problems a boring story, and the use of cheap gimmicks instead of complex characterization The story deals with two girls who are matched as old sames, sort I had high hopes for this book, but ended up feeling deflated and disappointed Two aspects of the book were interesting descriptions of the practice of Chinese footbinding, and an exploration of nu shu, the written language Chinese women developed to communicate exclusively with each other Unfortunately, the book also has two major problems a boring story, and the use of cheap gimmicks instead of complex characterization The story deals with two girls who are matched as old sames, sort of a best girlfriend relationship that is meant to last for life Unfortunately, the story of their friendship is just not compelling, and I kept feeling like the author missed the opportunity to tell a really interesting story within the context of the world she creates Aside from being boring the worst sin in fiction I was also disappointed with the way she handled the intimacy of the friendship between the two women, using what I call the cheap and easy Hollywood method for showing intimacy In other words, she introduces sexual elements to show us just how close these two women really are, rather than really taking us inside the complex world that is the relationship between two best girlfriends I thought it was a really shallow treatment of a very deep subject It was hugely disappointing.I don t recommend it


  3. Cassy Cassy says:

    My grandmother used to say that my big feet meant I had a good foundation I d stare longingly at her size six feet when she said this and curse my genetic inheritance from elsewhere in the family tree Then I had an ex boyfriend make the infuriating statement that rich women have small feet I pointed out that his celebrity crush, Paris Hilton yeah, another reason I dumped him has huge size eleven feet My teenage self took a lot of comfort in the fact that foot size is pre ordained and unc My grandmother used to say that my big feet meant I had a good foundation I d stare longingly at her size six feet when she said this and curse my genetic inheritance from elsewhere in the family tree Then I had an ex boyfriend make the infuriating statement that rich women have small feet I pointed out that his celebrity crush, Paris Hilton yeah, another reason I dumped him has huge size eleven feet My teenage self took a lot of comfort in the fact that foot size is pre ordained and unchangeable Clown sized feet can strike the smart, the rich, the beautiful And there isn t a damned thing they or I could do about it.Then I read this book and learn it is possible to change your foot size It s called foot binding And you know what I ll pass I enjoy being able to wiggle my toes and jump around So, thank you, Lisa See For once in my life, I am content with my big feet And I owe it all to your graphic descriptions of this ancient Chinese method Blood, putrefaction, pain, breaking bones, risk of death I cannot believe those women were subjected to such brutal mutilation for the sake of beauty Then they were still expected to clean the house perched on those tiny, unstable feet.The foot binding portion of the book was the highlight for me The inspiration for the book was nu shu, a written language developed by Chinese women and kept secret from men for hundreds of years Yawn I didn t find that part of the story very compelling or even believable Didn t men wonder why the ladies kept ink and brushes in their room Beyond the foot biding event and nu shu device, this was really a story about a female friendship that was deep and even erotic at times Putting aside any problems with the plot, their emotions toward each other were complex and meaningful There was hope and joy, but mostly there was pain During an event with Lisa last night, she spoke of how depressing writing can be She doesn t always wake up raring to write Instead she may dread knowing she has to go to a dark, internal place to write about a character s death or betrayal Even worse, she may have to stay in that mindset for days or weeks until that section is completely written I spend so much time glamorizing a writer s lifestyle that I had not fully considered how emotionally draining it could be I suspected the career engenders self doubt Will people like what I ve written Yet, I had never thought about the struggle Lisa described to create and inhabit the internal emotional environment necessary to produce the actual words.I commend Lisa for giving us a realistic look at the treatment of and expectations for women in that day and age Women were isolated and undervalued Their worth was determined solely by whether they could produce sons But honestly, my main complaint about the book is how depressing it was I kept waiting for some great act of heroism Yet the women stuck to their traditional roles The main character not only repeated the indoctrination, she believed it My role in life is to obey, obey, obey Sure, they rebelled in small ways, but always within the confines of their societal roles I kept routing for one character to leave an abusive husband or, at very least, stand up to her oppressive mother in law Normally I criticize authors for deviating from historical facts in order to cater to a modern readership This time, I think Lisa stayed so true to the setting that she turned me off And her heavy handed foreshadowing didn t help Life was hard for women back then I get it But does that make for an enjoyable read Not really And I think that was my problem I had the wrong expectations as I entered this book It wasn t a sprawling historical epic, filled with exciting action, heart fluttering romance, and distant voyages like Shogun one of the few other historical fictions I have read that are set in Asia It was a largely quiet book about quiet life Lisa herself admitted she writes sad books And when she started this book, no one thought it would be successful China Women Gloom No one will read that Well, she proved them wrong Lots of people read it Heck, I read it Evenpeople will probably see the movie.And it s worth reading It made me appreciate the freedom women enjoy today, as well as the potential depth of female friendship Not to mention, I m looking down at my feet right now and thinking, hell yeah, that s one beautiful, ergonomic piece of evolution and just the right size


  4. Candi Candi says:

    For my entire life I longed for love I knew it was not right for me as a girl and later as a woman to want or expect it, but I did, and this unjustified desire has been at the root of every problem I have experienced in my life What a sad yet beautiful book this was I adore historical fiction that can really immerse me in another time and place and Snow Flower and the Secret Fan did just that Transported back to 19th century China, I believe I arrived at a better understanding of a womaFor my entire life I longed for love I knew it was not right for me as a girl and later as a woman to want or expect it, but I did, and this unjustified desire has been at the root of every problem I have experienced in my life What a sad yet beautiful book this was I adore historical fiction that can really immerse me in another time and place and Snow Flower and the Secret Fan did just that Transported back to 19th century China, I believe I arrived at a better understanding of a woman s position in this society I learned what it was like to be a daughter, a sister, a wife and a daughter in law I am admittedly grateful for not ever having to experience these often overwhelmingly harsh relationships in the way that these women did Not for an instant can I imagine having to yearn for my mother s love with the feeling that it was something impossible to attain And, I most certainly could not fathom bending to my mother in law s every command and needing to act as a lowly visitor in her home even as the wife of her own son The cultural practice of footbinding was truly horrific and cringeworthy If you, like me, decide to google any images, please consider yourself forewarned that it really does look as awful and disfiguring as you would no doubt imagine Yet, a young girl s future and her marriageability depended heavily on the result of this archaic practice The one relationship that I found endearing and one that transcends both time and culture is that of a true friendship This is so beautifully demonstrated in the bond between the narrator, Lily, and Snow Flower, her old same Lisa See really brings to life the nuances of their lifelong friendship which began as little girls with a contract sealing their fates in a laotong relationshipA laotong match is as significant as a good marriage A laotong relationship is made by choice for the purpose of emotional companionship and eternal fidelity A marriage is not made by choice and has only one purpose to have sonsWe see the girls grow up together and experience the joys of childhood friendship laughing, dreaming, and mourning together The women s secret form of writing, or nu shu, begins with the communication between the little girls on the folds of a special fan that will provide a chronicle of their extraordinary relationship throughout their lives As married women, they experience both the happiness and the sorrow of giving birth and living under the heavy thumbs of their husbands and mothers in law in households that scorn rather than cherish them And, as with some friendships, these women experience the differences in social standings within a community and suffer from misunderstandings and ultimate betrayal Can a friendship really withstand anything This is a wonderful book for anyone interested in the culture of China during this period and those that enjoy reading about the various connections between women If you ve ever had a true friend, this book will truly speak to you and perhaps make you just a tad nostalgic about the carefree days when you could hope and giggle with your own bestie


  5. Dem Dem says:

    A book is a magical thing, that lets you travel to far away places without ever leaving your chairQuote by Katrina Mayer This week I have time travelled to nineteenth century China, 1970s Texas, 1850s Louisiana and at the moment I am on a whistle stop tour with A Traveller at the Gates of Wisdom by John Boyne and no 2 week isolation required when I return Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is my second novel by Lisa See having read Shanghai Girls a couple of years ago Set in Nineteenth CA book is a magical thing, that lets you travel to far away places without ever leaving your chairQuote by Katrina Mayer This week I have time travelled to nineteenth century China, 1970s Texas, 1850s Louisiana and at the moment I am on a whistle stop tour with A Traveller at the Gates of Wisdom by John Boyne and no 2 week isolation required when I return Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is my second novel by Lisa See having read Shanghai Girls a couple of years ago Set in Nineteenth Century China and is the story of Lily an 80 year old woman who at the age of seven is paired with a laotong old same in an emotional match that will last a lifetime Her story is that of a secret world of writings that women shared and ancient Chinese customs of foot binding.An emotional and fascinating read and you cant help get drawn into the characters lives I love when a book educates as well as entertains a reader and this novel has a lot of detail on Chinese customs and culture which I really enjoyed A short book that really held my attention and another book for my real life book shelf


  6. Michele Michele says:

    An Excellent Choice for Book Clubs I had a hard time putting down this book and felt utterly transported to a village in the Hunan province in central south China during the early to mid nineteenth century The narrator, 80 year old Lily, who refers to herself as one who has yet to die, tells the story of her life She has outlived her family members and relates the story of her formative years and her relationship with another woman, Snow Flower This well written tale is related with clarit An Excellent Choice for Book Clubs I had a hard time putting down this book and felt utterly transported to a village in the Hunan province in central south China during the early to mid nineteenth century The narrator, 80 year old Lily, who refers to herself as one who has yet to die, tells the story of her life She has outlived her family members and relates the story of her formative years and her relationship with another woman, Snow Flower This well written tale is related with clarity, sentiment, and most poignantly, remorse It s through remorse that the reader comes to know the true character of Lily, as she reflects upon a misunderstanding she had with her one true love.Beyond the reflection of Lily s relationship with Snow Flower, a girl she meets at the age of six when they are introduced by the local matchmaker and tied by contract to forever be known as laotongs, or old sames, this story provides a lesson in Chinese history and culture Many have heard of the tradition of feet binding, but through Lisa See s writing, one experiences the excruciating pain and the meaning behind a mother s duty to bind her worthless daughters feet It s all about marriage and, of course, sex At once I went to the Internet to look for images of bound feet because I had a terribly hard time visualizing a foot only seven centimeters in length.I enjoyed every minute of reading this story and I highly recommend it I think it would make an excellent selection for book clubs, given the vast number of elements to spark topics of conversation Chinese culture past and present Mother daughter relationships Foot binding Arranged marriage Female relationships Lesbian relationships Chinese history Chinese foods Chinese geography, etc


  7. Petra-X Petra-X says:

    I tried to read it It was so non compelling, who were these little mice of women, what were they up to, why should I care MAKE ME CARE The plot didn t, the characters didn t and so I couldn t get past about page 50 My mind kept drifting off and by the time I was conscious of reading again I wouldn t know what had happened so I had to reread it again and again up unto the fourth rereading of the same pages Exactly the same experience I had with Rushdie s Satanic Verses So I gave up I tho I tried to read it It was so non compelling, who were these little mice of women, what were they up to, why should I care MAKE ME CARE The plot didn t, the characters didn t and so I couldn t get past about page 50 My mind kept drifting off and by the time I was conscious of reading again I wouldn t know what had happened so I had to reread it again and again up unto the fourth rereading of the same pages Exactly the same experience I had with Rushdie s Satanic Verses So I gave up I thought it was probably me and not the book, so I downloaded the film Lord, was it bad or what Exactly the same experience, it wasn t anyinteresting It s an experience I m not going to have with the Satanic Verses though I doubt there s a director still alive brave enough to make a film of that book


  8. Rowena Rowena says:

    This has got to be one of the most beautiful, yet heartbreaking books that I have ever read The subject matter is horrific but the story is truly engaging.The main storyline in this book is about the horrible patriarchal practise, foot binding, that took place in China in the past The graphic descriptions in this book are certain to turn anyone s stomach I would like to know who decided that 7 centimetre long feet were sexy The obsession with feet truly perplexed me how could young men kn This has got to be one of the most beautiful, yet heartbreaking books that I have ever read The subject matter is horrific but the story is truly engaging.The main storyline in this book is about the horrible patriarchal practise, foot binding, that took place in China in the past The graphic descriptions in this book are certain to turn anyone s stomach I would like to know who decided that 7 centimetre long feet were sexy The obsession with feet truly perplexed me how could young men know nothing about their future betrothed wives except what size their feet were Obviously foot binding was a practice to control women, which was a point I made to a feminist I was talking to when a man suddenly interrupted our conversation and accused us of waging a war against men Also, it s so sad how culturally women were undervalued in Chinese society They suffered so much abuse and, from a very young age, they were cultivated for marriage because, after all, all women were good for was for giving birth to sons Everything they did was to prepare them for marriage yet when they eventually married their in laws weren t even satisfied and everyone was miserable What s the point Excuse my sarcastic tone but I cannot wrap my head around how awful this part of Chinese history is Instead of protecting women in society, women were made to feel worthless and their lives are also put into peril It was truly heartbreaking Lisa See brilliantly captured the reality of Chinese life in the past I also thought that part of the book about the laotang and sisterhood was lovely, as well as the parts about the secret writing, and the art of storytelling Definitely a great book but not one that I d ever read again, it s too distressing


  9. Lisa Vegan Lisa Vegan says:

    I ended up enjoying this book because it was so beautifully written and it took me deep into a world so unlike my own thank goodness for that This story takes place in China s Hunan Province in the 1800s and isabout the inner lives of the women than the men I had a complete misconception of what foot binding entailed It s completely different, and so muchbrutal a practice than I ever could have imagined There were also many examples given of what I consider other horrendous cust I ended up enjoying this book because it was so beautifully written and it took me deep into a world so unlike my own thank goodness for that This story takes place in China s Hunan Province in the 1800s and isabout the inner lives of the women than the men I had a complete misconception of what foot binding entailed It s completely different, and so muchbrutal a practice than I ever could have imagined There were also many examples given of what I consider other horrendous customs and beliefs I ve always believed that tradition and culture that harms is not worth preserving and reading about these people s lives was a painful experience The story is fiction but well researched so I m assuming there was much truth about how women led their lives in that time and place I was able to feel some empathy for the storywriter, because I could understand her longing to be loved and the difficulties she had in her upbringing that formed her personality, even though I sometimes had a hard time liking her and many of the characters I was also irritated by so much of the book I loathe stories where there s a horrible miscommunication or misunderstanding that seems so unnecessary, and there s an example of that here Also, throughout the book, the narrator is writing the story of her life for another others in her culture to read, yet the whole time I felt she was educating us in our time places So frequently the line as you know or as everyone knows is used to start a sentence, and I just kept thinking that if everyone knows it the narrator wouldn t need to say it in that way The narrator also most of the way through the book alludes to something she s going to tell the reader and it got to the point where, instead of following along with the story, I just wanted to see what she was going to reveal.I think that it s worth it to read the paperback copy because of Lisa See s notes at the end about the writing of this book, Perhaps they were there in the hardcover version as well, but often additions such as this aren t there at publication of the hardcover edition Also, the paperback has some discussion questions at the end which might come in handy as I read this book for my book club.The plot characters did make me think about however women are regarded and what is considered beautiful in various cultures, including our own, can powerfully influence women s lives And they also highlight how our various expectations of ourselves and others imposed by our societies can influence human beings It also made me think a lot about the corrosive power of unresolved anger and trauma


  10. Barbara H Barbara H says:

    I actually wavered between giving this book a rating of 3 or 4 stars This is not because Lisa See was unable to portray the life in this feudal Chinese society well, because much of this was vivid and interesting The oppression of women, including the horrors of footbinding, isolation and servitude to men and one s in laws were all clearly and often dismayingly illustrated.One problem with this novel is how much better the tale could have been related if written in the third person, rather tha I actually wavered between giving this book a rating of 3 or 4 stars This is not because Lisa See was unable to portray the life in this feudal Chinese society well, because much of this was vivid and interesting The oppression of women, including the horrors of footbinding, isolation and servitude to men and one s in laws were all clearly and often dismayingly illustrated.One problem with this novel is how much better the tale could have been related if written in the third person, rather than the use of Lily as narrator After learning throughout this book that she was a sensitive, caring, pledged lifelong friend she becomes a cruel,selfish and judgemental harridan to Snow Flower These very factors were so antithetical to what was supposed to have been developed between these two women and what they had always professed would be their relationship, that it was difficult to continue the reading with the same attitude of enjoyment and appreciation I often found that See did not work hard enough to develop either her plot lines or her characters She often glossed over some segments, seemingly in order to reach her next period of time.Despite these criticisms, I found this book often compelling with a level of anticipation for the reader


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