Nanda Gray, the daughter of a Catholic convert, is nine when she is sent to the Convent of Five Wounds. Quick-witted, resilient and eager to please, she accepts this closed world where, with all the enthusiasm of the outsider, her desires and passions become only those the school permits. Her only deviation from total obedience is the passionate friendships she makes.
Convent life is perfectly captured - the smell of beeswax and incense; the petty cruelties of the nuns; the eccentricities of Nanda's school friends.
Antonia White (1899-1980) was educated at the Convent of the Sacred Heart at Roehampton before going to St Paul's School for Girls and training for the stage at RADA. From 1924 until the Second World War she worked as a journalist. Among numerous volumes of short stories, fiction and autobiography, Antonia White published a celebrated quartet of novels linked by their heroine: Frost in May (1922), The Lost Traveller (1950), The Sugar House (1952) and Beyond the Glass (1954).