This is the story of Ellie Crowther, a spirited and original woman who becomes a painter of distinction. But her canvases continue to be haunted by an elusive presence she thinks of as her shadow man.
Told in five parts, each concentrating on a significant period of her life, it ranges from the 1950s when, as a girl, she lived in a YWCA hostel with her mother, to her twenties when she lives on a commune in Nelson, through to middle age, as she raises a son and becomes a painter. Ellie begins her journey into adulthood alert to its disappointments but also discovering her talents and passions. As the story progresses, Ellie comes to understand and eventually make peace with her shadow man.
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