Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

  • by Lisa See
  • Narrated by Janet Song
  • 11 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

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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- acasia

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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- Anthony

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-04-2012
  • Publisher: Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd