Stella Gibbons wrote this novel in the 1930s as a satire on the "earthy" novels of authors such as D. H. Lawrence and Mary Webb. It tells the story of Flora Poste who, finding herself orphaned and penniless, goes to live with relatives on an incredibly run-down farm. The family are dominated by Aunt Ada Doom who, as a child, once "saw something nasty in the woodshed" - an expression which has passed into the English language.
Gradually Flora brings modern ideas on all levels to the farm and its inhabitants (including birth control, washing up mops - instead of twigs to scratch the dishes clean - and better social behaviour generally). Her triumphs include arranging for the film-struck younger son of the family to become a Hollywood star himself, curbing the incredibly twee behaviour of the daughter of the family and marrying her off to the local squire and - greatest achievement of all - converting Aunt Ada Doom into a fashionable globe- trotter. The elder son of the family, realising that Flora isn't trying to take the farm over from him, proposes to her but she gently convinces him that it would be more suitable for him to marry the farm girl who obviously adores him (and who has also been smartened up by Flora). All ends happily with Flora flying off into the sunset with her own faithful and patient suitor.