In the 2020s the female birthrate starts to decline. By 2059 only one newborn in twenty is female. This drop in the number of females in the population causes serious social upheavals: changes in sexual mores, the lives of both men and women, occupations, marriage traditions, commerce, and crime. By 2040, the year Julia is born, there is only one female birth for every five males. The situation continues to worsen in the second half of the twenty-first century, until by the time Julia is in her teens, the ratio has dropped to one in twenty-five. Scientists around the world scramble to discover what is causing this decline in female birth and to find a remedy. The world is turned upside down by the social changes brought about by the epidemic. This story tells how the surplus men try to adjust to the situation, and how women handle their newfound power, which comes with a high price: severe restrictions on their freedom and safety. After a failed marriage, Julia prospers as a courtesan, a high-status occupation in the new society. Catherine, Julia’s daughter, is abducted as a teenager by religious fundamentalists and her life follows radically different path from that of her mother.
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