Chairman Mao may swim or sink, but Mrs. Buck still glides through the arteries of China on a sampan of aromatic sentiment, sateen speech and time-tested construction. Madame Liang, another version of the author's Noble Elderly Lady of serene Confucian perspectives, had sent her three daughters--Grace, Mercy and Joy--to America for safety and an education, while she herself continued to hold a fairly secure position as owner of a ""fashionable"" restaurant. However, Madame is forced to send for Grace, now a doctor, to apply her knowledge to China, which Grace is willing to do. Mercy, married to scientist John Sung, also returns so that they may share their country's future. But John refuses to utilize his talents for warfare, has predictable difficulties, is finally killed by a bungled nuclear explosion. Mercy escapes with their child by way of Hong Kong. Madame Liang, still retaining her faith in the eventual triumph of the real spirit of the Chinese people, is beaten to death by Red Guards. Inheriting her mother's stubborn dedication to the Eternal Way, Grace is determined to preserve the best of old and new through her marriage to the ""man of the people she loves."" A sweet-sour staple which will reach the adherents through the Book-of-the-Month Selection for summer and major promotion.