Mary and Ingrid are sisters who were born and brought up in China but now reside in the United States. Mary is the older of the two; seemingly a devoted wife, mother, and churchgoer. Yet she is tormented by adultery, a grudge toward her parents, and her despair at work. Her estranged sister Ingrid has never settled for anything; she prefers her bohemian friends’ culture to her own, and is haunted by her college boyfriend’s tragic death. When their widowed mother travels to the United States for the first time, they can’t avoid a family get-together. Amid all it stirs up, it becomes clear that the uneasy relationship between the sisters has roots deeper than either had ever acknowledged—and extends to their parents and their homeland.
Stretching from mid-century China to the United States at the turn of the millennium, Beautiful as Yesterday explores issues of identity, of family and friendship, love and loss. Written in beautifully crafted prose, this is a penetrating exploration of what it means to belong, and the impact of history and memories on one’s life.