Ruth Pennistan is a farmer's daughter, born and brought up in Kent. But her dark hair and eyes belie a forgotten ancestry - a Spanish gypsy grandmother and a passionate inheritance. Malory, the rather strait-laced guest of the family, falls head over heels in love, even whilst Ruth becomes trapped against her will in a drama of love and tragedy with another man. Vita Sackville-West's first heroine echoes the passions and contradictions of the author's own life.
"Alive with smouldering passion and passages of real beauty... Unquestionably a novel of unusual power" * Daily Telegraph * "Glamorous aristocrat, complete with ancient name, Spanish Gypsy blood, lost inheritance and family scandals; reckless, romantic lesbian and cross-dresser; devoted wife to a noted diplomat and diarist; mother of two talented sons; bestselling writer, gardener of genius - what could be more enthralling?" -- Hermione Lee * Guardian *
Vita Sackville-West was born in 1892 at Knole in Kent, the only child of aristocratic parents. In 1913 she married diplomat Harold Nicolson, with whom she had two sons and travelled extensively before settling at Kent's Sissinghurst Castle in 1930, where she devoted much of her time to creating its now world-famous garden. Throughout her life Sackville-West had a number of other relationships with both men and women, and her unconventional marriage would later become the subject of a biography written by her son Nigel Nicolson. Though she produced a substantial body of work, amongst which are writings on travel and gardening, Sackville-West is best known for her novels The Edwardians (1930) and All Passion Spent (1931), and for the pastoral poem The Land (1926), which was awarded the prestigious Hawthornden Prize. Sackville-West died on 2 June 1962 at her Sissinghurst home, aged seventy.