Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

This engrossing, lavishly detailed novel set in 19th-century China tells the story of Lily and Snow Flower, two young girls united in a lifelong pact of friendship known as laotong, or “old sames.” Exchanging letters written in nu shu—the secret form of written Chinese intended solely for women—the girls become closer than sisters, sharing trials such as foot-binding and arranged marriages. As years pass, they record significant events on an elaborate fan that symbolizes their bond. But when betrayal and deceit drive them apart, their supposedly unbreakable friendship may never recover. A fascinating glimpse into the oppressive and restricted lives of rural Chinese women, this is also a moving story of love, jealousy and friendship.