We grant men a right to solitude. Why can't we do the same for women? Born into a wealthy family in northern England and sent to boarding school to be educated by nuns, Ivory Frame rebels. She escapes to inter-war Paris, where she finds herself through art, and falls in with the most brilliantly bohemian set: the surrealists. Torn between an intense love affair with a married Russian painter and her soaring ambition to create, Ivory's life is violently interrupted by the Second World War. She flees from Europe, leaving behind her friends, her art, and her love. Now over ninety, Ivory labours defiantly in the frozen north on her last, greatest work-a vast account of animal languages-alone except for her sharp research assistant, Skeet. And then unexpected news from the past arrives: this magnificently fervent, complex woman is told that she has a grandchild, despite never having had a child of her own...
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