A foreign bachelor living in Peking's Chinese quarter finds himself guardian to the young daughter of an Italian railway worker. Through his stewardship, he catches a glimpse of an entirely different side of life. As Kuniang grows up, his feelings for her change, and he must compete with a motley cast of characters for her attentions. These include a shadowy former mistress of Rasputin, a flamboyant American fashion designer, and an English millionaire. But when Kuniang unwittingly falls under a form of Eastern hypsis, a terrifying vision threatens their prospects. Set against the mysterious and turbulent backdrop of Peking with its disparate inhabitants in the early twentieth century, The Maker of Heavenly Trousers is a charming, and at times tragic, story of love and family.