Opium dream for shopgirls, without a pinch of grit in its 448 pages; by the author of such glitzy joys as The Property of a Lady (1990) and The Rich Shall Inherit (1989). Plot hippity-hops back and forth over a century of ties between San Francisco and Hong Kong, beginning in 1937 when mandarin Lai Tsin--San Francisco's ""most mysterious, most notorious, and richest man,"" and ""grandfather"" of Lysandra Lai Tsin, who is the illegitimate daughter of Francie Harrison--dies and leaves baby Lysandra a personal fortune of $300 million (in pre-WW II dollars), plus ownership (as taipan) of Lai Tsin Corporation, a trading company worth $900 million and based in Hong Kong. Which is nice--taxwise--for six-year-old Lysandra. Francesca, her mother, is named head of the company until Lysandra turns 18. At this time, in 1937, Francie's best friend is ex-Yorkshirewoman Annie Aysgarth, who has risen from poverty and is now president of Aysgarth Hotels International, a subsidiary of Lai Tsin Corp. Francie and Annie met during the San Francisco earthquake, during which Annie's lost brother Josh died--but not before impregnating Francie with Oliver. In 1906, Frantic and Annie brought the poor coolie-gambler Lai Tsin great luck at poker, and he repays by talking them into his new and vastly expanding import-export business. Later, Francie has Lysandra out of wedlock with Buck Wingate, a three-time senator from California whose imperially snobbish wife Maryanne thinks he should run for president. However, Francie's horrible brother Harry, a distraught multimillionaire caught in the Depression, has the hots for Maryanne, who kills him when he starts to rape her, which leads to Buck and Francie's affair being exposed and Buck resigning his office. Then Lysandra comes of age and we discover Lai Tsin's deepest secret, that he's actually....Never touches earth for a second.