Set in the early 1900s in the tiny town of Byron, nestled in Australia's Blue Mountains, this gem of a novel tells of the blossoming of Missy Wright, 33-year-old spinster and poor relations of the town's ruling family, the Hurlingfords. Missy, her widowed mother and crippled aunt live in genteel poverty, victims of the Hurlingford inheritance policy that gives riches to the male members of the family, who heartlessly abuse the women they dominate. Plain, painfully thin and doomed to dress always in serviceable brown, Missy seems fated for a dreary future until a distant cousin, a divorcee, arrives from Sydney . . .