When their mother dies, Junan and her little sister Yinan make a pact to stay together forever. They grow up in Hangzhou, in their wealthy father's house, Junan becoming every year more beautiful, Yinan shyer and more withdrawn. One night, some ...
men come to the house to play paigao, among them a young soldier called Li Ang. When the girls' father loses once more at the tiles, he pays his gambling debt with the hand of his older daughter. So the beautiful Junan becomes the bride of the ambitious and handsome Li Ang. Junan, exquisite and cold, makes the mistake she had always feared making, the mistake that disgraced her mother and led to her early death. Quite simply, she falls in love with her husband. When the Japanese invade, Li Ang is sent to protect the wartime capital. Unable to join him herself and tormented by love and jealousy, Junan makes her second mistake. She sends to him the one woman she can trust, her quiet and dreamy younger sister Yinan. As delicately nuanced and coloured as a painting, Lan Samantha Chang's first novel tells a classic story of desire and love.