In 1922, the New Zealand writer Katherine Mansfield was on the verge of literary celebrity. She was the friend of Virginia Woolf and D. H. Lawrence, and her remarkable stories were changing the way people thought about the form. But she was also deeply unhappy in her marriage to John Middleton Murryand she was dying of tuberculosis. When she abandoned the nomadic life of an invalid in search of the ideal climate and put herself in the hands of George Ivanovich Gurdjieff, she was taking a step into the unknown.
A mystic of Greek and Armenian parentage, Gurdjieff had traveled extensively among esoteric communities in the East before he fled the Revolution in Russia and established himself as a teacher in France. His Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man occupied the Prieur de Basse Loges, a magnificent chateau in the woods of Fontainebleau.
When Katherine Mansfield left Paris to live at the Prieur, she ceased to write in her celebrated Journal. Taking up where the Journal leaves off, A Child of the Sun follows the course of Mansfield's inner life at the Prieur, recounting her meetings with the remarkable people who had gathered about Gurdjieff: the editor and critic Alfred Orage; Olgivanna Hinzenberg, future wife of Frank Lloyd Wright; P. D. Ouspensky, whose books introduced Gurdjieff to the West. Mansfield is at first put off by Gurdjieff's rough and ready manner, and his offhand treatment of his students. But as her understanding of his method growsand as her physical condition deterioratesshe experiences his great compassion and perceives the possibility of attaining the inner freedom that has eluded her throughout her life.