It isshortly before Christmas in the year 1879, the forty-second year of QueenVictoria's reign, when the curtain rises on the Garden family: on Mr Garden, aclergyman of many denominations, about to lose his faith for the umpteenthtime, on his selfless, devoted wife - and on their six children, about to belaunched on the adult world. There is Victoria, a Pre-Raphaelite beauty intent on marriage; Maurice, shaking his fist at the injustices of the world; Stanley, a followerof Ruskin and Morris, doing good as radical fashion dictates; Irving, alusty young capitalist, and Una born forhappy marriage and maternity. All are watched from the sidelines by theirsister Rome. Detached, intelligent, urbane, she observes three generations of her family strut and fret their hour uponthe stage. To her their sound and fury signify nothing- but to us thememory of Rome's one brief love affairstrikes the final note of truth, defiantly affirming that it is better to have loved and lost . . .
Emilie Rose Macaulay (1881-1958) was born in Rugby, Warwickshire but spent her early childhood in Italy. She was educated at Oxford High School for Girls and Somerville College, Oxford, where she read Modern History.
She wrote her first novel, Abbots Verney, in 1906, while living in Great Shelford, near Cambridge. Rose became an ardent Anglo-Catholic and, through her great childhood friendship with Rupert Brooks, was introduced to London literary society. After moving to London, in 1914 published her first book of poetry, The Two Blind Countries. In 1918 she met the novelist and former Catholic priest Gerald O'Donovan, the married man with whom she was to have an affair lasting until his death. Her final and most famous novel, The Towers of Trebizond (1956), was awarded a James Tait Black Memorial Prize and became a bestseller in America.
Rose Macaulay was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1958, but seven months later suffered a heart attack and died at her home.