Family illness leads Nuannuan to leave behind her life in Beijing and return to Chu Wang Village. There she stays, falling back in love with her childhood sweetheart Kaitian – though the village leader Zhen Shideng would have liked her to marry his son.

Nuannuan settles into the farming life, but a scam causes her and Kaitian to fall in debt to the whole village. The couple’s fortunes turn when a visitor points out nearby ruins of historical interest – giving Nuannuan and Kaitian the key to building a local tourism business. There is substantial money to be made, but also two significant problems. One is that to do most things requires the village leader’s permission, and Zhen Shideng knows exactly what he can demand of Nuannuan. The other problem is the temptation that comes with money and power…

I spread out my reading of this book, and thoroughly enjoyed the result. The characters are engaging, the plot turns in interesting ways, and there’s a sharp examination of the potential effects of tourism (for good and I’ll)  on a rural community. I will be exploring Zhou Daxin’s work further, of that I’m sure.

Published by Sinoist Books, who specialise in translations from Chinese.