A short novel, a precis really, cleverly ticked off without wasting a single word--or for that matter too much feeling--on George, a limited young man ""from Birmeegum,"" and Anna whom he is fortunate 'enough to marry; she's certainly 'more versed in the nicer 'things of life and at first she serves lovely meals and tends the house irreproachably. Until she has their son, Michael. Then she neglects both 'and her love for George decelerates to indifference and then irritation. On the other hand she becomes indoctrinated, by her new friend Marietta who tells her to open her mind, as a Marxist, and, while George is at first only too happy to appropriate their son altogether, he thinks twice after passing in' review his evacuated, motherless childhood during the war. Quietly he waits and watches, unsure of just how far Anna has left' them both behind until there's a bombing, and then an assassination. Barbara Rees has always been a very good writer (Try Another Country and Diminishing circles)--astute and dispassionate; it is both a mark of the success and the failure of this novel that it ends much too soon, and too abruptly, shortchanging our expectations.