Stretching from mid-century China to both coasts of the United States at the turn of the millennium, Beautiful as Yesterday tells the powerful and captivating story of three Chinese women from the same family. It is a penetrating exploration of what it means to belong, what it means to be a family, and the impact of history and memories on one's life. "Speaking English is like taking a bath with my clothes on," Mary Chang admits after having lived in America for more than ten years. Under the facade of being a devoted wife, mother, churchgoer, and a hightech professional, she is tormented by adultery, her grudge toward her parents, and her despair at work. Ingrid, Mary's attractive estranged sister, prefers her bohemian friends' Latin culture to her own, though her college boyfriend's tragic death never fails to haunt her. And when their widowed mother Wang Fenglan, a state factory retiree, travels from China to America for the first time under Mary's request to explore the possibility of emigrating, she awkwardly reunites the family and unknowingly stirs up buried family tensions and secrets.