Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See: Book Review

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Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

3.5 Stars

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is the story of two girls from very different backgrounds in 1800s China and the deep friendship they share.

I picked this up after reading three Holocaust novels in a row. I needed some “fluff” and, not really knowing what it was about, I thought this might work. Instead I found myself reading the horrible details of foot binding. I knew it was bad, but I didn’t realize it was that bad. *Shudder*

That aside, this was pretty good. I found it hard to relate to either Lily or Snow Flower, but I did appreciate the deep friendship they shared. In a time of arranged marriages, a friendship was the truest love most women experienced. I think we’ve lost some of that today, but we can still relate to the love, regret, and misunderstandings that arise between friends.

A big part of the book centers around the secret women’s writing that the women in this area of China had. I just love the whole idea of a hidden writing system invented for women by women. I’ve come across this idea before in The Secrets of Jin-shei by Alma Alexander. That novel’s set in an imaginary country that is obviously based on China. Readers of one of these books should like the other.

I think women who enjoy reading about friendships between women will enjoy this one.

Reviewed August 12, 2009

Read an excerpt.

Find author Lisa See on her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Buy Snow Flower and the Secret Fan at


Friday Flashback Reviews are a weekly feature here on The Introverted Reader. These are old reviews I wrote on GoodReads. Thanks to Angieville and her Retro Friday Reviews for the inspiration and encouragement!

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop’s, my local independent bookstore located in downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site.

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  1. I felt very much as you did. Had nightmares about the foot-binding process, but didn't feel much attached to either of the two women. Haven't seen the movie, hope it does the book justice.

  2. I loved this book…I found the friendship to be inspiring and the secret writing was really cool. I am currently reading Peony in Love by Lisa See – have you read that one?

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