Rumi Vashey is ten years, two months, thirteen days, two hours, forty-two minutes and six seconds old. The probability of her walking home from school with John Kemble is 0.2142, a probability severely reduced by the lacy frock and thick woollen tights she is forced to wear by her father. For Rumi is a gifted child and, as her father sees it, discipline is everything if the family is to have any hope of making its mark on its adoptive country. But Rumi is growing up and numbers no longer occupy her every waking moment: she abandons her homework to seek out friendship and replaces equations with stories from Malory Towers. And, as the pressure at home intensifies, so too does Rumi's desire for love.