Wednesday, September 22, 2010

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

Lily is the daughter of a farmer in a remote county of China in the 19th century. As she arrives at the tender age of six, she receives a visit from a diviner and then a matchmaker from another area of the county. It seems her feet, which are so important in this culture, have potential to be what people of this time consider perfect, so she is given the opportunity to be paired with a laotong, or "old same." In her lower status as a farmer's daughter, she would not normally have this opportunity, so she is naturally excited.

Lily and her laotong, Snow Flower, begin their relationship at this young age, and throughout Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Lisa See shows us how their lives intertwine and diverge over the years. This is more than just a story of friendship, though. What Lisa See presents is a clear picture of the culture of the time. The traditions explored in this book are both fascinating and disturbing; the chapter on footbinding is particularly painful. I learned a great deal about 19th century China, and I am certainly glad I didn't grow up in that time and place ~ especially as a woman.

I've had this book on my shelf for some time now, and have continuously heard from people who loved it. I did enjoy it. It was interesting, engaging and enlightening. I'm just not as excited by it as I thought I would be. And perhaps that's because it was as good as I expected it to be based on the comments I've received from others. I think I would have enjoyed it even more if I hadn't heard so many good things about it first.

My Rating: 4/5

Reading group guide and discussion questions for Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
Read my review of Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

This review was written based on a copy of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan that I received from


  1. At least it met your expectations even if it did not excite you.I loved this, you might be interested in what I had to say here

  2. Sometimes I wonder if we expect too much when we read such great reviews.
    I liked it because I thought it was so informative of something (foot binding) I didn't know anything about. It was such a different culture!!

  3. I have heard great things about this book. Thanks for the review!


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