There were two women in Zhenbao's life: one he called his white rose, the other his red rose. One was a spotless wife, the other a passionate mistress. Isn't that just how the average man describe a chaste widow's devotion to her husband's memory - as spotless, and passionate too? Maybe every man has had two such women - at least two. Marry a red rose and eventually she'll be a mosquito-blood streak smeared on the wall, while the white one is "moonlight in front of my bed." Marry a white rose, and before long she'll be a grain of sticky rice that's gotten stuck to your clothes; the red one, by then, is a scarlet beauty mark just over your heart. In Eileen Chang's eloquent and evocative novella, Zhenbao is a devoted son, a diligent worker, and
guarded in love. But when he meets a friend's spoilt, spirited, desirable wife, he cannot resist her charms, or keep their relationship under his control. As he succumbs to passions and resentments, Red Rose, White Rose is both sensual and restrained.