Four Chinese women, drawn together by the shadow of their past, meet in San Francisco to play mah jong, invest in stocks, eat dim sum, and to "say" stories to each other. Nearly 40 years later, one of the women has died, and her daughter arrives to take her place. However, the daughter never expected to learn of her mother's secret lifelong wish - and the tragic way in which it has come true. The revelation creates among the women an urgent need to remember the past. What is lost between generations and among friends - and what is salvaged - resonates throughout this novel of friendship among women and the relations between mothers and daughters.