The Natural Laws of Good Luck: A Memoir of an Unlikely Marriage


Ellen is forty-six, divorced, and having no luck with personal ads when her Chinese girlfriend comes up with a plan: she has a brother in China, Zhong-hua, who’s lonely too. Maybe they’d like each other? Taking a leap of faith that most of us wouldn’t dare, Ellen soon finds herself going to Beijing to meet him. Although they speak only a few words of each other’s language, there’s an unspoken connection between them and they decide to marry.


What follows is a remarkably touching and humorous story of two people from completely different worlds trying to make a marriage work. Settling in at Ellen’s ramshackle farmhouse in upstate New York, they quickly discover the cultural chasm that lies between them. Whenever things appear hopeless, his refrain to Ellen is, “Just try, maybe work.” Somehow, it usually does. At its heart, THE NATURAL LAWS OF GOOD LUCK: A Memoir of an Unlikely Marriage is a story of acceptance and of love beyond words. It is also a tale of finding renewal at midlife by taking a brave leap into the unknown.


The Natural Laws of Good Luck was selected by Barnes and Noble for their Discover Great New Writers promotion and by Borders for their Original Voices program.



North American publisher: Trumpeter (an imprint of Shambhala) 

Foreign rights: Shambhala, Jonathan Green (

Film Rights: Catfish Productions, Kevin McCarthy,  and United Talent Agency, Howard Sanders (




Elizabeth Brinkley of Library Journal calls it "An impressive debut, one of the funniest and most moving love stories to come around in a long time."

Additional Praise for The Natural Laws of Good Luck:

“A poignant, witty look at cultural misunderstandings, the intimacies of marriage, and the deep bonds of human connection.”—Gail Tsukiyama, author of The Street of A Thousand Blossoms

"This memoir is as unusual as it is hilario us, as brilliant as it is kind. Not only is it among the most moving love stories I have ever read, it is also one of the most emotionally complicated—which is not even to mention how fun it is to read."—Tom Bissell, author of The Father of All Things


"Ellen Graf and her husband, Lu Zhong-hua, take the realm of marriage and spin it on an irresistible new axis. Conventional notions of romance become riddles as these two quirky, endearing individuals fumble from delight to disaster and back again. Graf's exquisite memoir is quite simply the greatest love story I've ever read."—Aimee Liu, author of Cloud Mountain