'In the late afternoon of a day in February, that hottest of Australian summer months, when a brutal sun stood bronze above the river flats which you may see from the dormitory windows of Chatterton, Charles came to the school with his mother, walking from the railway station to the gates by a private path across a burnt, untidy field, overhung with Cape lilacs that still drooped, dusty and melancholy…In the lower part of his belly fear kicked and pulsed like a child in the womb, ready to be born.
'Fifteen-year-old Charles Fox is sent away to boarding school, innocent, alone and afraid. There one of his masters develops an intense attachment to him. But when Charles meets Margaret, a girl staying at a nearby farm for the holidays, he is besotted, and a passionate, unforgettable romance begins. ' (Publication summary : Text Classics)
Epigraph: '...To be free to choose is not enough. Though the young desire it, they cannot use that freedom, but must be forced into the decision of choice by good or evil circumstances which while they can perceive them they cannot control...' (Michael Paul: The Anatomy of Failure).
Note: In his foreword to the novel, first included in the 1963 edition, Douglas Stewart says: 'Mackenzie told me that he had invented the author, "Michael Paul", and the quotation from Michael Paul's alleged writings from which he had taken his title. He was always amused that none of his critics had spotted this harmless little hoax...'