As 1920s China teeters on the verge of civil war, two Oxford graduates return to the land of their birth. By the age of twenty-one Catherine Cabot bas already witnessed more death and hardship than anyone should have to in a lifetime. A nursing veteran of the Great War and the Russian Revolution, she is beautiful, headstrong and complicated, just like her mother. Now all she wants is to lay the ghosts of her past. Her friend, Yu Fu-kuei, is a revolutionary and communist spy determined to sacrifice herself and anybody else for her cause. Caught up in a triangular love affair, Catherine is drawn into China's struggle. As warlords and nationalists tear each other to pieces, and Japanese militarists wait for an excuse to invade, Catherine becomes the pawn of two men who will stop at nothing to wreak their revenge. Meanwhile Yu Fu-kuei, betraying and betrayed, discovers that love might be her strongest weapon.