Fifty-five heads turned as if by clockwork, and fifty-five pairs of eyes were levelled at the small girl in the white apron who meekly followed Mrs Gurley down the length of the dining-room. Laura crimsoned under the unexpected ordeal, and tried to fix her attention on the flouncing of Mrs Gurley's dress. The room seemed hundreds of feet long, and not a single person at the tea-tables but took stock of her. The girls made no scruple of leaning backwards and forwards, behind and before their neighbours, in order to see her better, and even the governesses were not above having a look.'Henry Handel Richardson's first novel is a coming-of-age novel story, set in turn-of-the-century Melbourne. When clever and imaginative Laura Rambotham leaves her home to attend a prestigious ladies' college, she finds herself compromising her ideals in an effort to fit in. The Getting of Wisdom is a portrait of an artistic and unwieldy soul chafing against stuffy ordinariness, told with great empathy and passion.