The Moonlight, published in 1946, had an unusual genesis. A number of years before, Joyce Cary had read Tolstoy's The Kreutzer Sonata and found himself in violent disagreement with it, feeling 'that great novel not merely unfair to women, but stupid about them, and stupid about the world in which they had to create their lives.' After some false starts, the novel that finally emerged as The Moonlight is his riposte. In Joyce Cary's own words, 'The essential characters in this book are three women: Rose, left by her mother's death to bring up her sisters; Ella, the youngest, most dependent, and also the most rebellious; and Amanda, Ella's daughter.' The death of Rose triggers painful memories for Ella, memories which force her to confront the tragic consequences of a family's guilt, relentless martyrdom and denial of romantic love. Amanda is struggling with her feminine identity, pressurised by the demands of two seemingly eligible suitors. Protective instincts prompt Ella to guide her, but Ella's sanity is waning and, as she attempts to make good, she invites history to repeat itself. In a letter to the author, Rachel Cecil, the wife of the don and critic, David Cecil, congratulated him, 'I think you do all the women extraordinarily well . . . Your imagination and sense of beauty is extraordinary . . . I really do think it is a marvellous book.'