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 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 hypnosis, 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.