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 was born in 1888. As a young woman she went bathing by moonlight with Rupert Brooke, and she lived long enough to protest against the invasion of Korea. This novel was first published in 1950. She died in 1958.