An arranged marriage of a young woman, Precious Jade, is brokered to help solve the problems of a floundering family in rural southern China at the end of the 19th century.
Precious Jade, a spirited girl, is determined to find a way to make life interesting and bearable in this highly structured society. Through her wits and recollection of advice and stories from a dearly loved grandmother, she is able to win over the members of her new family. Her final success lies in gaining the heart and support of her reluctant husband. And in the bargain she outsmarts a condescending trader and an arrogant magistrate.
The style of the script combines elements of traditional Chinese theatre with Western theatre. Perhaps the most noticeable custom from Chinese opera is having characters introduce themselves in song when first appearing on stage or reappearing after a long absence.
In addition to the songs of introduction, there are other songs dealing with feelings, wishes and determinations. The lyrics of all may be sung or spoken -- director's choice. The use of percussion to underscore action is another tradition from Chinese opera applied throughout.