The form of "Love in a Fallen City" is that of a novelette (a short novel.) The story takes place first in Shanghai, then Hong Kong. At first glimpse it looks like a story of the heroine Liusu's struggles with her family ties, but when story moves to her travel to Hong Kong with the Hsu family to meet Liuyuan again, the reader realizes it's a love story. Like many of Eileen Chang's stories, this love story includes some sort of love triangle.
The story is set in the year 1941 when the Japanese attacked and then occupied Hong Kong. There are both Western and traditional Chinese influences in the story. The Western influence appears in the form of Liuyuan, while the traditional Chinese influence is symbolized by Liusu. It is also shown through her family and their desire to marry all their daughters off. The balance between mixing two cultures allows many things to happen in the story that would not happen in other more traditional short stories.
Eileen Chang is one of the great writers of twentieth-century China, where she enjoys a passionate following both on the mainland and in Taiwan. At the heart of Chang's achievement is her short fiction—tales of love, longing, and the shifting and endlessly treacherous shoals of family life.
Written when she was still in her twenties, these extraordinary stories combine an unsettled, probing, utterly contemporary sensibility, keenly alert to sexual politics and psychological ambiguity, with an intense lyricism that echoes the classics of Chinese literature.