Tuesday Teaser – Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Once again I have a book for the Tuesday Teaser! This regular weekly event is hosted by MizB at the Should Be Reading blog, so head on over there and see other people’s teasers.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the procedure by now. You grab the book you’re currently reading, let it fall open to a (more or less) random page, and choose two sentences to quote, that will hopefully tease people into wanting to read the book.

(And I try as much as possible not to cheat, unless it’s absolutely necessary to have more than two sentences for the teaser to be effective. It’s usually not.)

Most importantly, you don’t post spoilers that give away important plot points or the end of the story.

So, without further ado, here is mine for this week:

“A laotong relationship is made by choice for the purpose of emotional companionship and eternal fidelity. A marriage is not made by choice and has only one purpose – to have sons.” – Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, page 43

This is a book about Lily, a woman in mid-19th century China, who recounts the life she led in her village. She talks about her traditional foot-binding at age seven (a truly horrific procedure), the rituals of matchmaking and eventual marriage, and what women’s role was in the society. She also talks about nu shu, the “women’s writing” that was invented in China by women, to be read only by women, so they could express their real thoughts to each other without the knowledge of men.

But woven through it all is the laotong relationship Lily has with another girl, Snow Flower, from age seven onward. This was an officially contracted relationship based on eight criteria, and it made two girls into pen pals and best friends. It was the closest relationship they could have throughout their lives, transcending family and marriage connections.

I’m almost done the book, and have been loving having the chance to find out about these customs and a bit of Chinese history. It’s not the sort of book I’d normally have picked up, but I’m glad I did.


    1. Yeah, I was skeptical when I picked it up, too, but wow. What a great book. I can’t wait to read more books by Ms. See.

      • Phyl says:

        Me too! And to think I mainly picked it up because I needed some sort of flower name in a book title for one of my reading challenges this year. Heehee!

    2. Beth says:

      This sounds very interesting. Thanks for visiting.

    3. I’ve already got this one on my TBR list. It sounds like a great read! Love the teaser.

      • Phyl says:

        When I think of how I picked it up at the library almost by “accident” (I just wanted some book with a flower in the title, heh), I am thrilled at what a happy accident it’s turned out to be.

    4. Hi Phyl, and hi Susan!

      I love the Chinese culture, and I’ve read a few great books on this topic. Seems that I’ve added another item to my reading list, heh. 🙂

      Here’s my teaser (I promise I didn’t cheat, lol), and soon there will be an attempt of book review on my blog.

      “We’re forced to drink twenty-five punishment toasts. No one knows why, but it’s a Russian tradition that no one is allowed to be sober when the tsar is present.”

      This is from “The Tsar’s Dwarf”, the fantastic book written by our twitter friend Peter H. Fogtdal.

      • Phyl says:

        Ooooooh! I really really must try to get a copy of that book somehow! Must support Twitter writers, but it also sounds like a great book, especially the way you and others have been raving about it lately.

    5. Thanks for pointing out this book to me for my China Challenge. Am familiar with many Chinese customs but this one is new to me. The book is one I must read!

      • Phyl says:

        As I was reading it I kept snapping my fingers, remembering your reviews of other books and thinking, “Who was it again, who’s doing that China challenge?? I think they’d really like this! Must tell them about it.” 🙂

    6. kiirstin says:

      My family, who all tend to read the same book eventually, loved this one. I actually saw this author’s latest come across the desk tonight, Peony in Love, and was oh so tempted. The thought of the ten library books I already have sitting at home managed to quell the temptation.

    7. Very nice teaser. I read this book several years ago and really enjoyed it. I also liked “Peony in Love” by the same author.


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