The history of this novel, written in the Sixties but only now posthumously published, is as strange as that of its author, the New Zealand novelist Janet Frame. Having been diagnosed as a schizophrenic, she had spent most of the Fifties in and out of mental hospitals. Only the publication of her first book saved her from the expedient of a lobotomy – which would almost certainly have terminated a literary career that was eventually to bring her worldwide fame. Soon after that, she set off for England in an attempt to overturn the life sentence passed on her.
Fortunately, at the Maudsley Hospital in London, she was to become the patient of a highly able and sympathetic psychiatrist, Professor Robert Cawley, who not only rejected the diagnosis of schizophrenia but also decided that most of Frame’s problems had been the direct result of her confinement in a succession