"When Annie Phelan arrives at the Dashell farm to begin work as a maid, she finds her new mistress strapping turkey wings on a naked boy who is to play the Angel of Death. Annie knows one thing for sure - she's not at the prim Mrs. Gilbey's anymore." "England in 1865 is aswirl with change. This is the age of invention, the Crystal Palace, progress, and the colonies. At the farm, the master, Eldon, dreams of charting unknown territory and becoming a great cartographer, while the mistress, Isabel, struggles with a new technology - photography - to produce art. Physically distant from her husband, she struggles as well with the repressed sexuality of the Victorian age.".
"It is Annie, beautiful, suggestible, and sensitive, who proves to be Isabel's inspiration - and the Dashells' undoing. Through a series of portraits - Guinevere, Ophelia, Grace, the Madonna - Isabel transforms the maid into her confidante and muse. To Eldon, too frail to sustain the world explorations for which he longs, Annie becomes "Phelan," a crucial member of his imaginary Arctic expedition. Caught between the two, Annie nearly loses herself, until disaster reveals her power over the Dashells' work and hearts."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)