A study of the contribution women made to the creative life of Australia in the early years of the twentieth century will help place Doris Kerr in context, and accord her the position she deserves in Australian literature. (Introduction)
From the book cover: "Other people might grow old and faded with a monotonous life but not she. In her heart she cherished a dream that the gods held something wonderful in store for her."
Helen Somerset feels stifled by her loveless home with a repressive father who fears that, like her absent mother, she may be only "painted clay." She wants to know life beyond the confines of Packington, a Melbourne suburb overlooking Port Phillip Bay. And when she is sixteen her father dies, releasing Helen to seek the affection and independence she has been denied. With a clerical job and a room in a lodging house Helen launches herself into the excitement of Bohemian life and free love--only to discover that this liberation has a double edge.