Bettina Whitelaw is a grand dame of the English literary scene. Approaching eighty, with a beautiful flat in Holland Park and a comfortable income, her life is not dissimilar to that of her wealthy, elegant neighbours. But her background most certainly is. Brought up in Bundaroo, a small town in the Australian outback, Bettina's childhood was dominated by the relentlessly blazing sun, by the long daily walk to school, and by the simmering animosities of smalltown life. The family house was a simple shack and her parents constantly struggled to make ends meet.