Fifteen-year-old Angelica Deverell knows she is different, that she is destined to become a feted author.
Escaping the dreariness of her provincial life, she locks herself in her room, pouring all her romantic longings on to the page.After reading The Lady Irania, the publishers are certain it will be a success, in spite of - and perhaps because of - its overblown style.
But they are curious as to who could have written such a book: 'Some old lady, romanticising behind lace-curtains' . . . 'Angelica Deverell is too good a name to be true . . . she might be an old man. It would be an amusing variation. You are expecting to meet Mary Anne Evans and in Walks George Eliot twirling his moustache.' So nothing can prepare them for the pale young woman who sits before them, with not a seed of irony or a grain of humour in her soul.