The turn of the century through its first thirty years backgrounds a story of immigrant Irish in a slowly deteriorating section of Brooklyn, where Maggie-Now grew up to the responsibilities thrown her way. Her father had been a leaner from boyhood in County Connemara. Maggie's mother could never defy him and Maggie was left with an infant brother, Denny, to care for. Claude, with a smattering of book learning, made Maggie feel like a queen. He married her, worked for a few weeks, and loafed for a few months. This is a rich canvas -- but somehow it lacks the warmth and the humor of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.