Headstrong and beautiful, in 1905 Rosetta escaped her safe Melbourne life, deserting her respectable husband and five-year-old daughter to run away with Zeno the Magnificent, a half-Chinese fortune teller and seducer of souls.
The pair reinvented themselves in London, where they beguiled European society and risked everything for a life of glamour and desire. Rosetta said she was American; Zeno claimed to be a brilliant Japanese professor. Together they attracted the patronage of famous writers, inventors and scientists, lords and ladies, dukes and duchesses. Empress Eugenie, the widow of Napoleon III, and Princess Charlotte, sister of Germany’s last Kaiser, were among their greatest devotees.
Rosetta revelled in a life few women of her time would have dared to embrace, yet all the while she hid her secret shame: the daughter she had left behind.
This is the compelling story of Alexandra Joel’s quest to uncover the truth about her scandalous great-grandmother, and the shocking century-old secret she would discover at the heart of her family.