Fengqin Dadswell was born in a small village in north east China. Her parents could not read or write. She was lucky to enjoy free education, graduated from Beida (Peking University), and was a teacher in the Department of Economics and a researcher of the Population Research Institute of Peking University. In the 1980s, she visited more than ten provinces of China, conducting social research in the countryside. She left China in 1988 on a UN grant to complete an MA in Population Studies at Exeter University.
Dama has raised her three sons in the village, Flying Dragon. Children - boys - are essential to carry on the family line, but her three sons have failed to produce any and now her pregnant daughter-in-law is living in a hidden cellar to avoid a forced abortion. Meanwhile, Fenghua's only nephew has been kidnapped, probably sold.
In a land where people are viciously punished for wanting to be parents, and where the law keeps changing, peasants will go to desperate lengths in order to have a baby boy, legally or otherwise.
Mingming and Fenghua must make a heartbreaking decision in order to have the baby they long for. Dingming wants to marry but his lady is elsewhere. Xingming hasn't yet met a wife. Will Dama's offspring be able to carry on their family line?