It is 1949, and Guy Langton's house - like his family's fortunes - has seen better days. Only ageing uncles and half-remembered stories from childhood offer any insight into his family's rise and fall over three generations. But in his grandmother Alice's diaries he uncovers more than just a story of a dynasty in decline. He finds a tale of England and Australia, a saga of deception, disappointment and loss. Most of all he discovers Alice's inner life. Alice emerges as one of the truly remarkable characters in Australian literature. The Cardboard Crown is a forgotten classic, Martin Boyd's indelible account of a vanished world.