Olivia Curtis wakes to her seventeenth birthday and her presents: a roll of flame-coloured silk for her first evening dress, a diary for her innermost thoughts, a china ornament, and a ten shilling note. Safe within the bosom of a family at once lovingly familiar yet curiously remote, she stands poised on the brink of womanhood, anticipating her first dance with tremulous uncertainty and excitement - the greatest, yet most terrifying, event in her restricted social life.
For her pretty, poised elder sister, Kate, the dance will be a triumph, but for Olivia, shy and awkward, what will it be?
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