From the acclaimed author of Peach Blossom Pavilion
comes a lush and lyrical novel of East and West—and of
one young woman’s search for her heart’s true calling…
When twenty-year-old Meng Ning declares that she wants to be
a Buddhist nun, her mother is aghast. In her eyes, a nun’s
life means only deprivation—“no freedom, no love, no meat.”
But to Meng Ning, it means the chance to control her own
destiny, and to live in an oasis of music, art, and poetry
far from her parents’ unhappy union.
With an enigmatic nun known as Yi Kong, “Depending on
Emptiness,” as her mentor, Meng Ning spends the next ten
years studying abroad, disdaining men, and preparing to
enter the nunnery. Then, a fire breaks out at her Buddhist
retreat, and Meng Ning is carried to safety by Michael
Fuller, a young American doctor. The unprecedented physical
contact stirs her curiosity. And as their tentative
friendship grows intimate, Meng Ning realizes she must
choose between the sensual and the spiritual life.
From the austere beauty of China’s Buddhist temples to the
whirlwind of Manhattan’s social elite, and the brilliant
bustle of Paris and Hong Kong, here is a novel of joy and
heartbreak—and of the surprising paths that lead us where we
most need to be.