Snow Flower and the Secret Fan – Book Review

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

I’m not totally sure that I should even bother reviewing this book, because it seems like a good 3/4 of the world has already read it, but I read it, so I’m going to share my opinion with you anyway!

For those behind on the times as I was, “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” is set in mid-19th century China. The main character, Lily, comes from a farming family but is recommended for a laotong relationship – essentially an emotional marriage between two women. This laotong relationship, with a more cultured girl from town, along with her perfect feet, has a positive influence on Lily’s prospects for marriage, allowing her to marry into a very well-off family and become Lady Lu. The primary story, however, is of the relationship between the laotongs Lily and Snow Flower.

Footbinding is a major part of this novel and is discussed very graphically.  Very graphically.  I honestly thought I was going to be sick during part of it, it is nearly as revolting as some of the discussions of burns in The Gargoyle, in my opinion.  That being said, I very much enjoyed “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.’  I thought it was very well written and very well researched.  I truly felt that I came away from the book both pleased with the story and having learned more about 19th century China.

Buy this book on Amazon.

12 comments to Snow Flower and the Secret Fan – Book Review

  • I like your review. I haven’t read the book but you’ve given me some good information & I’m glad you reviewed it! :-)

  • I know what you mean about the foot-binding sections – they were horrible. I was shocked reading about it. But, that said, I agree with you – great book. This one made my top ten of 2007 when I read it…very vivid writing. I didn’t like her second book (Peony in Love) as much.

  • Rebecca @ Readerville

    Thanks for sharing! I haven’t read this yet, but I have the next book, Peony in Love on my possible TBRs and am feeling pretty ambivalent about it.

    Hope your wedding was wonderful…and why on earth are you blogging on your honeymoon?

  • LOL. I’m still behind the times. I have this one and Peony in Love on my shelf and still haven’t gotten to them. I really want to though. Great review!

  • I loved this novel so much. It was one of my favorites that I read last year. I’m sad to hear from Wendy that Peony in Love isn’t as good.

  • Yes, this was a great book! Yes, the footbinding sections were excruciating! Can I now admit that at the time I was reading the book I Googled “footbinding” and saw xrays of feet that had been bound – astonishing! There are still (much older) women whose feet were bound as young girls; now they are unable to get around, unable to work, etc. It was an education inside a good novel.

    I haven’t yet read *Peony in Love*. Some authors have such a tough act to follow with a very successful book. I loved *Bel Canto*, but thought *Magician’s Assistant* was lacking (Ann Patchett).

    Yes, we should keep reviewing “older” books … it might remind a reader about a good one they “missed”.

  • Literate Housewife: Don’t let me discourage you – it’s just my opinion…and I have seen some reviewers gushing about Peony…so you should see for yourself :) Perhaps it was as Dawn said…my expectations were so high after reading Snowflower (which I absolutely LOVED), that maybe it wasn’t fair to compare!

  • I’m also behind with this. It’s in my TBR pile next to me though!

  • Eh, it never hurts to review something if you have something to say about it. You might have a different view that someone finds intriguing or that finally convinces a last holdout to read the book. And, well, some of us still haven’t read it. 😉

  • I think anything you read is fair game for review. I don’t know about calling Snow Flower “old”…not all of us are able/have the time to read as much as some people (a.k.a. you and other voracious readers who frequent this site), so we (a.k.a. me and people who have to read tons of un-fun academic stuff) need to hear about anything and everything; we’re behind the times! I get to read during the summer mostly…but I did read this one and it was awesome, as is your review.

  • Ann

    I loved this book. Have thought much about it since reading it.

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