In this scintillating work of autobiographical fiction, Setouchi Jakuchō recalls with almost photographic clarity scenes from her past: growing up in the Tokushima countryside in the 1920s, the daughter of a craftsman, and in Tokyo as a young student experiencing the heady freedom of college life; escaping to Kyoto at the end of a disastrous arranged marriage and an ill-starred love affair before returning to Tokyo, with its lively community of artists and writers, to establish herself as a novelist. Throughout, Jakuchō is propelled by a burning desire to write and to make a living as a writer. Her memories, sharp and clear, also provide a fascinating picture of everyday life in Japan in the years surrounding World War II.