Two couples - Wenya and Zhiying, Zhenzhen and Lao Gao - meet, marry and become inseparable just as China is shaking off the memory of war, and the brightest of its youth are pledging themselves to building a vibrant new future. Yet for all that their lives embody the ideals of the young republic, they are spared none of the suffering and hardship that are to follow, through years of famine and the terror of the Cultural Revolution. It is the two women who form the most powerful bond, and Wenya's loyalty and Zhenzhen's spirit sustain them both through their darkest hours. And as a new, more affluent China dawns and the struggle for survival gives way to an equally fierce battle to protect the values closest to their hearts, Zhenzhen teaches Wenya an unforgettable lesson about courage.
Liu Hong was born in Manchuria, on China's North Korean border, in 1965, in the midst of the Cultural Revolution. She studied English language and literature before going to Beijing where she worked as a translator for Channel Four and other Western TV companies. In 1989 she came to England on an academic scholarship and studied first in Oxford and then in London, where she gained an MA in social anthropology. Considered to be the first mainland Chinese writer writing fiction in English in this country, she has a passion for English literature and has published four novels: Startling Moon, The Magpie Bridge, The Touch and the Wives of the East Wind. She is also the translator of the Chinese novel The Concubine of Shanghai, by Hong Ying. She lives in Wiltshire with her husband, the writer Jon Cannon and their two children.