Delve Into the Bonds of Friendship in “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan”
During 19th-Century China, a girl named Lily meets a laotong, or “old same,” in the form of a friend named Snow Flower. As the two girls grow up, they are taught the secret language of nu shu, which was created by Chinese women in order to communicate away from the eyes of men. However, adversity and jealousy tear the two friends apart and it is only on Snow Flower’s death bed that Lily learns she completely misunderstood a message from her laotong that caused her unneeded misery.
Best known for her Shanghai Girls series, Lisa See’s 2005 novel Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is a beautiful exploration on the unbreakable bond of friendship. The highlight of the novel is the complexity Lee layers into her characters, particularly when it comes to the relationship between females when they’re in an archaic, oppressive environment. As the friends begin to drift apart due to their circumstances, Lee weaves beautiful prose about their world, especially when it comes to ancient Chinese customs. With beautiful writing, See’s novel is an emotional roller coaster ride through the recesses of a human heart that will leave you remembering your own past friendships.