While I find the story of Joe Carstairs fascinating, I find Summerscale's attempt at explaining this enigma falls short of the mark. I believe there must be many others with far greater experience as writers/biographers, and even some who knew Carstairs personally, who would have been better qualified to tell this story. Summerscale's naivete and general lack of knowledge about the period during which Carstairs made her mark is glaringly obvious throughout much of the book. Her attempt to write this story became an education for herself, worthwhile, but of no service to her readers. I would have appreciated more insight and less supposition. I also find her attempts to turn everything Carstairs did or made into a metaphor for self-imposed exile a bit hard to swallow. Carstairs was no recluse--she was quite the opposite; an exhibitionist extraordinaire.