Publisher's Summary

In 19th-century China, when wives and daughters were foot-bound and lived in almost total seclusion, the women in one remote Hunan county developed their own secret code for communication: nu shu (“women’s writing”). With the arrival of a silk fan on which Snow Flower has composed for Lily a poem of introduction in nu shu, their friendship is sealed. As the years pass, through famine and rebellion, they reflect upon their arranged marriages, 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 lifelong friendship suddenly threatens to tear apart.
©2005 Lisa See (P)2012 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Deb on 23-06-2015

Snow Flower and Lady Lou. What a life

I enjoyed this story. Setting up visions of poor families in ancient China could be a hard task, however Lisa See does a wonderful job of it.
The lives of two Chinese women is told with understanding and imagination. I listened intently as their lives unraveled into a journey of joy and sadness, bitterness and betrayal.
Janet Song delivers a fine performance and I would listen to more of these stories. I believe See and Song do just that. Lisa "sees" the vision and Janet " sings" it. A perfect combination.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Caryn on 03-07-2015

Great story, not so great narration

Loved the story and the fact that it was beautifully written and seemed mostly historically and culturally accurate, at least to a contemporary overseas Chinese reader. The specific traditon of LaoTong matches was interesting to learn about and I even had to look it up after.

Unfortunately, I found the narrator's style a little strange and stilted. It sounded like a fake voice at first and so monotonous. I considered returning this book. Luckily, either I got used to it or it got better after several chapters.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By acasia on 13-03-2015

A book all women should read

Where does Snow Flower and the Secret Fan rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I liked the female narrator of this book. Often if I was to read lau ton or phrases like this used due to the book being based in China I would struggle to pronounce them properly. I throughly enjoyed the book and felt it envoked emotion.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan?

SPOILER # When Lily visits snowflowers home. Things are not always what they seem!

What about Janet Song’s performance did you like?

I tend to skip over songs in my head but this was a nice part of the audio book.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Sisiterhood is the bedrock of our society.

Any additional comments?

Snowflower and Lily are Lao ton- sworn sisters for life who's relationships comes above men, other women and children. The book vividly describes the foot binding rituals the girls go through to honour their families and try to get the smallest feet in the county. Lily's feet are special which allows her to climb societies social ladder. She is paired with the prestigous Snowflower and they exchange skills of embroidary, cooking, cleaning and Nu Shu.

Nu Shu is an ancient chineese language used soley by women to communicate in private. More primative than chineese writing Nu Shu is an intriguing language which uses context far more than english. Symbols are written between Snowflower & Lily on their secret fan to depict their lives together each time they meet.

There can be no sequel to this book as it tells not only the story of two young girls from their daughter days as children to their sitting quietly days as old sames, waiting for the afterlife to come and take them. The book talks intimately and openly about strong female relationships and our book group felt many of the themes were relevant to everyday society.

How long do you expect to keep a friend for? What happens at different stages of your life? How are women viewed from youth to being aged.

The book describes many fascintating rituals from 19th century China that take place in mourning, death, sealing of fates and preparing for the afterlife.

The book inspires a visit to China to learn more about its history and current state.

There is a film made of this book that I intend to watch and I hope it provokes the same heartfelt emotions as the book

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Anthony on 04-01-2015

Enter an oppressed world of supposed beauty

Moving story and insights into of the hierarchy, paternalism and culture of foot-bound Yao women in 19th Century Hunan, China. We learn about the role of women in the women's areas, their toil and devotion to their families, their sisterhood and devotion to one another... Beautifully and movingly written but ultimately non-confrontational about a system of gendered violence that sacrifices the interests of women and girls. Amidst the violence a special bond between two women - "laotongs" "old sames"...

This fascinating story highlights the brutality not only of foot-binding but of unequal social structures, of war and its impact on communities, and on women's solidarity with one another. It draws attention to the development of a unique women's only language - nushu - a beautiful and delicate, but somewhat limited, script used to convey hardship, sorrow and solidarity between women.

Moving, sad, beautifully told.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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