Pretty, unworldly Sophia is twenty-one years old and hastily married to a young painter called Charles. An artist's model with an eccentric collection of pets, she is ill-equipped to cope with the bohemian London of the 1930s, where poverty, babies (however much loved) and husband conspire to torment her. Hoping to add some spice to her life, Sophia takes up with Peregrine, a dismal, ageing critic, and comes to regret her marriage - and her affair. But in this case virtue is more than its own reward, for repentance brings an abrupt end to the cycle of unsold pictures, unpaid bills and unwashed dishes . . .
Barbara Comyns (1909-92) was born in Bidford-on-Avon in Warwickshire. She was an artist and writer, worked in advertising, dealt in old cars and antiques, bred poodles and developed property. She was twice married, and she and her second husband lived in Spain for eighteen years, returning to the UK in the early 1970s. She is the author of eleven books, including Sisters by a River (1947), Our Spoons Came from Woolworths (1950), The Vet's Daughter (1959), The Skin Chairs (1962) and A Touch of Mistletoe (1967). She died in Shropshire in 1992