In 1930s Shanghai, following the path of duty takes precedence over personal desires for every young Chinese woman. For Feng, that means becoming the bride of a wealthy businessman in a marriage arranged by her parents. In the enclosed world of the Sang household - a place of public ceremony and private cruelty - she learns that fulfilling her duty means bearing a male heir. Ruthless and embittered by a life that has been forced on her, Feng plots a terrible revenge. But as the years pass, she must come to a reckoning with the sacrifices and the terrible choices she has made to assure her place in family and society, before the entire country is engulfed in the fast-flowing tide of revolution.