The offer of a summer post as governess to the granddaughter of a famous actress seems a dazzling prospect to Ellen Fenwick, far removed from the fireside teas and prize-givings of her Yorkshire high school. And the Villa Meridiana, surveying the Tuscan hills with their vines and rows of silvery olives, provides a dreamlike setting for the new life she anticipates. Here she tastes her first cocktail, cuts her hair, becomes 'Fenny' - and falls in love.
When she steps off the London train at Leeds (known in the novel as Aire) Mary Welburn is returning to the world of her childhood. But while she attempts to settle back into her family, Mary strikes up new relationships and learns how the North, in 1938, is reacting to a confused and threatening world.
First published in 1962, "A drama of family crisis convincing in its details" was how the Times described it; while Punch thought it "a novel to be proud of", and Daniel George "her greatest triumph". Lettice Cooper (1897-1994), was an English writer. She was born in Eccles, Lancashire on 3 September, 1897. She began to write stories when she was seven, and studied classics at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, graduating in 1918. She returned home after Oxford to work for her family’s engineering firm and wrote her first novel, The Lighted Room in 1925.
Flora is a young Oxford lecturer, whose love affair with a married man has ended in tragedy. She faces a bleak, empty world. Following an ill-fated flight to a villa in Tuscany, and the collapse of her warm friendship with Lalage, an Oxford colleague, Flora is close to breakdown. She is rescued by her understanding family and by her return to Oxford, where she finds release from her own emotional problems in those of her most brilliant student, Nan, who seems about to sacrifice her career on the altar of revolutionary politics.