Resourceful Meilin marries Xiaoven, one of the sons of the wealthy Dao family. For generations the family has been running an antiques shop, but it toko until Meilin to give the family a male heir – the apple of her grandfather’s eye. Yet the good fortune does not last. In 1938, Xiaowen is drafted and the whole family has to flee from the approaching Japanese army. Meilin sets off with four-year-old Renshu and a brocade scroll – a priceless family heirloom.
The long journey will be full of difficult decisions and family tragedies. Meilin’s persistence will lead her to Shanghai and then to Taiwan in search of a better, or at least peaceful, life for Renshu.
Years later, Henry Dao, a graduate of an American university and the father of little Lily, struggles to come to terms with his daughter’s fascination with Chinese culture and her fondness of the Chinese diaspora in the United States. Lily doesn’t give up – she wants to discover her family history, to meet her grandmother living in Taiwan and to finally find her place in the world.
In a short afterword, Melissa Fu points out that while Peach Blossom Spring was somehow inspired by her father’s life, the story is purely fictional. The book is, however, full of tenderness and compassion towards the protagonist’s strife. This family saga slash historical fiction is very moving, showing the sad fate shared by an entire generation.