Lemons gleam in a bowl. Flowers fan out softly in a vase. A door swings open in a sparsely furnished room. What is contained in a still life – and what falls out of the frame? For women artists in the early twentieth century, including Ethel Sands, Nina Hamnett, Vanessa Bell, and Gwen John, who lived in and around the Bloomsbury Group, this art form was a conduit for their lives, their rebellions, their quiet loves for men and women. In this blend of group biography and art criticism, Birrell brings these shadowy figures into the light and conducts a dazzling investigation into the structures of intimacy that make – and dismantle – our worlds.