A definitely feminine appeal here -- for Northern Jane comes -- as a bride -- to Arkansas -- and finds that nothing is as casual, informal, vapid, or superficial as she has known in her urban -- international upbringing. Deep, deep under the surface of the small town of Sycamore are the threatening characters, and the situations they create, of her mother-in-law and her triumphant rightness, her father-in-law and his subservience to the demands of his married position, her husband, who loses his acquired sophistication when the home roots smother his disinterest -- and all the close-woven fabric of the town's never-waning concern over the Knowles' past, present -- and possible future. Jane's fight all along the line is underlined by the return of her husband's old love, by the appearance of an epidemic, by the emergence of the family's bastard as a political contender, by the social pressures brought on by her position. With the climax of her pregnancy and an election, Jane's marriage -- and her in-laws -- come under control -- even if a new order takes over. This has an enveloping quality that will capture most women, for the interest in household decor and social signatures is pervasive.