Poised for publication on her 80th birthday, this brimming, spirited memoir will gratify Godden's loyal following and draw a few more into the fold. Godden grew up the second of four girls in a close family that prized originality and fostered resourcefulness. After childhood years in India, she returned to England to finish school. Godden describes these years, and the guiding lessons of an influential writing teacher, with the economy and grace familiar from her other work. She extends herself even more as she continues into more complexly shaded adult years, when a successful dance school (in Calcutta) puts her in social limbo, Black Narcissus surprises with its broad appeal, and marriage falls to fulfill its expectations. The volume ends in 1946 as Godden, nearly penniless, returns to England with two young daughters, buoyed largely by a valuable Oriental rug and the manuscript for The River. Readers will recognize the originals of fictional people and places, and marvel at both the energy that sustained her and the difficult writing conditions she endured, especially after her husband's abandonment. Though she feared ""My mind is a flotsam"" and rued her ""perpetual anxiety,"" the tenor of this time seems otherwise; she comes through these vexatious years with relatively few scars and many unforgettable memories--orchards of wild white iris, a trio of thieving carpenters, the colors of a Kashmiri spring. Sharply evocative reminiscences from a prolific, much-admired writer.