Yin Ling--poor, beautiful, an outstanding student and a poet--is to marry Vincent Chee, a rich PhD student from a very traditional, upper-class family. She will become a dutiful wife, not the existence of her dreams, but the Chees' money and influence is essential, for her mother has cancer and they cannot abandon a faithful old servant, Ah Heng Cheh. However, the mapping out of Ling's future doesn't proceed smoothly. Almost against her will, and through her poetry, she meets outspoken American professor, Ben Gallagher, who threatens to overturn everything. Ling must make her choice: east or west, head or heart. The birth of a son makes her moral predicament even more agonizing.