"Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" by Lisa See is a moving novel that portrays the strength of women and the beauty and burdens of lifelong friendships.
The most interesting part of this novel for me was reading about the traditions and lives of women in 19th-century China. The detailed descriptions of foot binding and arranged marriages were fascinating and really set the stage for the story.
The story itself is based around one tradition in particular; the tradition of “laotongs” or old sames. Lily, our narrator, is matched as a “laotong” when she is a girl to Snow Flower, a friend who will become a part of Lily’s life forever.
Through 80 years of Lily’s life we see her relationship with Snow Flower blossom into a closer relationship than she has even with her husband. It withstands the triumphs and tragedies of life, each woman clinging to the other as they grow up learning to accept their low status as women.
The book chronicles not only this special relationship but the everyday life of Lily and Snow Flower and shows how much status can affect the way a woman lived. This is a great book for those interested in Chinese history or women’s literature.
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