The author of this novel is an anthropologist. This novel is based on the Japanese Heian era noblewoman Murasaki Shikibu. Murasaki was a court poet, and she wrote The Tale of Genji which is now considered a classic. Dalby imagines her life in this story. This is also a woman’s story about court culture, littered with poetry based on the natural world. Murasaki loses her mother when she is young. She and her friend Chifuru make up stories of lovers. Her friend dies and a poem sent to Chifuru’s family “I yearn to ask what path it followed through the clouds – the wild goose that flew off, leaving the flock” speaks of Murasaki’s grief. Murasaki marries and finds life is much duller than she imagined. Although the novel is full of events and happenings, the reader is an observer, never fully immersed in Murasaki’s world.