Emerging from a grief-shadowed childhood in the First World War, Mary Denvers struggles to achieve her ambition to become a doctor. Through the years of the sexual revolution she plays an eminent part at the vanguard of the birth control movement.
Her cousin Dodie, meanwhile, is a frivolous jazz flapper who rises to short-lived stardom as a novelist before wasting away in insanity.
Though their fortunes are reversed as the years go by, childless Mary is prey to an enduring envy of Dodie’s motherhood, and finds her ideas challenged as new temptations confront her. The rivalries, ambitions and achievements of the women are finely paralleled against a superbly evoked background of changing decades.
‘Skilfully presented . . . The sense of life slipping away, of urgent problems not mattering any more, of ultimate futility, is movingly conveyed. It touched a nerve.’ Financial Times
‘Sharp, informed . . . Gillian Tindall has dug deep and unearthed a fascinating dossier’ Sunday Times
‘Observant . . . Glinting with humour’ Daily Telegraph