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At twenty-one, the passionate and headstrong Ann Veronica Stanley is determined to rule her own life. When her autocratic father forbids her, via formal letter, from attending a fashionable art-school ball, and even further refuses to allow her advanced study of science, she decides she has no choice but to leave her family home and make a fresh start alone. She escapes the stodgy suburbs to London, enrolling as a student of biology and immersing herself in a world of intellectuals, socialists, and suffragettes. Soon, however, she finds that freedom comes at a price, when she meets the brilliant Capes, a married acad emic, and falls hopelessly in love.