Dorothy Enid Eden (1912-1982) grew up on an isolated farm in New Zealand's South Island. She worked for some years as a legal secretary, but always wanted to be a writer. She wrote children's stories for a local farming publication and at age 21 published her first story for adults. These early writings were published under the name of Ena Eden. Her first book was published in 1940. She travelled extensively after the war, settling in London in the early 1950s, eventually becoming a full time writer. Eden's books have included family sagas, thrillers, gothic fiction and historical novels. By 1980 she was among the ten best-selling authors in the world, and was translated into many other languages. At least one book, ''Crow Hollow'', was filmed.
It was her aristocratic beauty, her fine English breeding, and her impeccable social sense that first drew Gilbert to Eugenia and made him think of her as the perfect mistress of Yarrabee, the great plantation and vineyard he had wrested from the wilderness. But as Eugenia learns more of the ruthlessly ambitious man she has married and the rugged land he has brought her to, the very elegance and delicacy her husband prized in her soon prove liabilities. She is appalled by many aspects of plantation life - the convict slave laborers, the suffocating summer heat, the merciless winters. It is a maid who seems to be the real mistress of Yarrabee.