This novel takes place in three time periods. In the present, Yung Ling Teoh, a retired judge, looks back on her life during the Malayan Emergency in 1951. A former prisoner of the Japanese, she had apprenticed herself to Aritomo, once the gardener to the Emperor of Japan. She wishes to learn the art of creating a Japanese garden so she can create a memorial to her sister who had been murdered by the Japanese. The story touches on the decisions forced on decent people caught up in world-shaking events and the paths they later take to make recompense. As exquisitely written as Eng’s first novel, The Gift of Rain.