Title: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
Author: Lisa See
Release Date: June 27, 2005
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks
Genre: Historical Fiction, Multicultural Fiction
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is the story of Lily and her laotong, Snow Flower. A laotong is a type of adopted sister. While a woman will leave her childhood home for marriage, the relationship with a laotong is lifelong. This is the story of two very different women and how their relationship changes as they are faced with the rigors of every day life in 19th century China.
I’ve read two of Lisa See’s books, Peony in Love and Shanghai Girls, and enjoyed them both. However, I’ve heard time and again that Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is See’s real masterpiece, and that it’s simply not to be missed. After reading it, I can see why people have said that.
I was really amazed by Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. Lisa See does a wonderful job making the reader feel like they are in 19th century China. There are so many historical details; the intricacies of the story are just incredible. I can’t imagine how much time See must have put into researching this novel. It was just so vivid; I was completely immersed in Chinese history and culture while reading this novel. It was so realistic and descriptive that I was sick to my stomach when she described the foot binding practice in detail.
At the core of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is the friendship between Lily and Snow Flower. They’re both wonderful women; it’s clear that Lisa See is really passionate about her characters, writing them as vibrantly as possible. They’re also very different from one another, which adds to the scope of the novel.
This is one of those books where it’s hard to put into words why it’s so good – all I can say is that it’s an incredibly vivid and well-written novel. Lisa See is a talented author that really brings 19th century China to life, and you should definitely pick up Snow Flower and the Secret Fan if you haven’t already.