A novel by May Sarton, published by W. W. Norton and Company in 1961. The story follows Dr. Lucy Winter as she begins her first year of teaching English literature at Appleton, a small college for women in New England.
Lucy has just finished her doctoral work at Harvard as the novel opens. She had decided to do graduate work there "quite simply because John would be at the Medical School nearby" but now that she has broken off her engagement to John, she is at a loss for meaning and purpose in her life.
She is not sure she wants to be a professor, and not sure she can be an adequate teacher. Fighting constant self-doubt and resisting the impulse to be mother, sister and psychiatrist to the girls, Lucy also must find a way through the complicated politics of the other faculty, one of which is the towering scholar Carryl Cope, professor of medieval history.
The crisis arrives when Lucy catches Dr. Cope's brightest student plagiarizing an essay. The faculty take sides on the issue of the girl's expulsion from Appleton, and before it is over, more than one previously close relationship has been disrupted.
The novel has a slightly musty feel, because of the polite, nineteenth century language and manners of the characters. Yet, it is progressive in subject, treating the education and scholarship of women with enlightenment. The frequency of cigarette smoking may gently shock the modern reader, as will the undertone of lesbianism between Carryl Cope and her mentor. This book offers a glimpse into the world of small college academia from an unusual point of view: that of the uncomfortably green professor; and it describes the conflicts that outsiders rarely imagine.