Book Review: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan


Book number three in my Expanding Horizons Challenge!

In 19th century China, a young girl is paired in a lifelong friendship with Snow Flower, her “laotong”. They communicate in a secret language called “nu shu”, one created by women, by writing on a beautiful fan that is sent back and forth between the two. As they get older, they share their struggles and joys, but their committed relationship is put to the test because of a misunderstanding that threatens to completely demolish their friendship.

This book made me recall the theme of this challenge, more than the others I’ve read. I was brought into the world of foot binding (OUCH!), arranged marriages, family customs, festivals, where women and men were kept separate in conversation and daily activities. Women during this time were viewed with such little value, only as good as the children they bore (you’d better hope it was a boy). However, through the interactions between Lily and Snow Flower, you see just how strong and smart women have always had to be.

Friendship is also an important theme; actually it’s the central theme. As Snow Flower and Lily get older, their lives become different, as is the case with many life-long friends. This is very relatable if you’ve had the privilege of such a relationship. Expectations and attitudes shift, and this book shows the challenges of such changes.

Some of the book, particularly dealing with the friendship during the later years, feels a little rushed, but other than that I felt this was a good choice to expand my horizons.

3.25 out of 5 Iggystars

7 comments:

Teddy Rose said...

I loved this book! I gave it 5 stars. Great review!

Melissa said...

I enjoyed this one as well. I've heard criticisms of it, though, because you don't actually know what Lily feels about the whole thing. It didn't bother me (though the footbinding chapters did!) so much. I thought it was a beautiful book, though, and am looking forward to reading (sometime) Peony in Love.

iggystar said...

Thanks for the comments guys.

I would have given the book a higher rating, but I felt once I'd finished, the story and characters didn't stay with me.

Corinne said...

I have heard only good things about this book - I really liked your review. It gave me a better sense of the book than what my friends have told me. I've got to just pick it up one of these days!

kookiejar said...

This one has been on my list for quite some time (I know I have a copy floating around here too), so it's good to know it's worth reading. Thanks, man. :D

Shelf Elf said...

Thanks for your review. I'm such a "judge-a-book-by-the-cover" sort of girl, so I will confess that this beautiful cover has caught my eye on several outings to my local bookstore. Glad to hear it is worth reading. I'll look for it at the library.

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