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From the last days of warlordism in the early 20th century, to the founding of the fledgling Chinese republic under Sun Yat-sen, to the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945), to the Chinese Civil War (1945-1949) and and the founding of the People's Republic of China under Mao Zedong, to the tragedy of Tiananmen Square in 1989, this book is the 100-year odyssey of Bittersweet, a headstrong peasant woman who rises from poverty and endures abandonment, patriarchy and revolution as the wife of the second most powerful man in China. Unmarried at nineteen and tormented by her jealous sister-in-law, Bittersweet defies custom and arranges her own marriage to an officer in China's republican army whose favorable destiny matches Bittersweet's own. As her husband, Delin's star rises with every victory in battle, Bittersweet's star rises along with it. When she gives birth to a son, her position is assured. But while her husband fights enemies on the battlefield, and the deception of his envious commander-in-chief Chiang Kai-shek, uncertainty of a different stripe intrudes upon Bittersweet's already unsettled life in the form of Dejie, her husband's beautiful and arrogant concubine. By skillfully employing the very rules that men have devised to justify their own privileges and carefully cultivating friendships and alliances, Bittersweet gains agency and authority all the while remaining the picture of dutiful daughter-in-law and obedient wife. She has a single ambition—to see her family safe and together again.