This is as much a historical novel as it is a family story about the profound connections between mothers and daughters. In addition to the family story, the reader learns about the finer points of life as a courtesan in early 20th century China through the eyes of Violet, the precocious "Eurasian" daughter of Lulu Minturn, who runs a very successful courtesan house in Shanghai. Sadly, at some point in the story, Lulu is forced to leave Shanghai and shockingly leaves her daughter at another courtesan house. Jumping from bustling Shanghai to an isolated village in rural China to San Francisco at the turn of the 19th century, the epic story follows three generations of women pulled apart by outside forces. For years, Amy Tan with much success has been writing novels of cross cultural conflicts as a result of cultural upheavals.