"In 1898, China experienced one hundred days of utopia, after a cabal of reformist intellectuals persuaded the young emperor to enact sweeping changes intended to modernize the country and bring about the "Great Unity." Their movement ended in blood and the crowning of two more dictators, but not before it whetted an appetite for revolution all across the country - an appetite that would eventually consume millions of lives. One such life belongs to Xiumi, the young daughter of a wealthy landowner and former government official who goes insane over a painting, then mysteriously disappears. Days later, Xiumi's mother welcomes to the estate a young man who carries a grand but brutal vision in his heart and a gold cicada in his pocket. When his plans collapse, Xiumi inherits his vision, just as she herself begins fighting the Confucian social mores that view women as property. On her wedding day, she becomes a pawn in a series of violent transactions carried out by men who think they are building paradise; as each one fails, she attempts to repay them in kind by spearheading a movement of her own. Her campaign for change is always a fight to win control of her own body; and the cost of even that is nearly total."--Provided by publisher.