It is 1946 and the people of France and England are facing the aftermath of the war. Banished by her beautiful, indolent mother to England, Barbary Deniston is thrown into the care of her distinguished father and conventional stepmother. Having grown up in the sunshine of Provence, allowed to run wild with the Maquis, experienced collaboration, betrayal and death, Barbary finds it hard to adjust to the drab austerity of postwar London life.Confused and unhappy, she discovers one day the flowering wastes around St Paul's. Here, in the bombed heart of London, she finds an echo of the wilderness of Provence and is forced to confront the wilderness within herself.
Rose Macaulay (1881-1958) was born in Rugby, Warwickshire. She studied Modern History at Somerville College, Oxford and wrote her first novel, Abbots Verney in 1906. She was introduced to the London literary scene by her childhood friend Rupert Brooke, and her friends included Ivy Compton-Burnett, Virginia Woolf, E. M. Forster, Rosamond Lehmann and Elizabeth Bowen. Macaulay became celebrated writer who published over thirty works of fiction, non-fiction and poetry in her lifetime, including Crewe Train and The World My Wilderness. She won the James Tait Black Memorial prize for her final novel, The Towers of Trebizond (1956) and was awarded the DBE in 1957.