This book takes place in Nanjing the year leading up to the infamous massacre by the Japanese in 1937. The story is about Ding Wenyu, a womanizing professor of foreign languages. He is a immensely popular professor who does not abide by any rule of either etiquette or common sense. He is invited to the wedding of one of his colleague's and falls head over heels in love with the bride, Ren Yuyuan. He starts by sending daily love letters to her. She at first is embarrassed and does not know how to handle the undeserved attention. Ren's marriage to a arrogant philandering pilot has problems from the start.
The urgency of the love because of the environment gets more and more tense at the invasion draws nearer.
There is a tremendous amount of detail in this book. The author describes this year in amazing attention to detail. The amount of research done was phenomenal. The Chinese politics and attitudes are described.
I found this book intriguing but difficult to read. First the romance was a little farcical. This may be the Chinese style. The book read like a history book at times instead of a historical fiction. I do not know whether this is because of the amount of detail in the book or because of the translation