In the face of its selection by the Literary Guild, of the regretted rarity and unusual literary quality of Elizabeth Bowen's novels, this is nonetheless a disappointment. For if prevailing still are the subtleties of response and reaction, the awareness of the shaded- the shadowed in human interchange, which distinguishes all she has written, this- as a novel- lacks a precision of purpose, remains tenuous in its intention and accomplishment. England, during the war, frames the story of Stella Rodney and Robert Kelway, Stella a divorcee in her early forties of considerable attractiveness and ease, Robert, one of the wounded of Dunkirk. To this love affair of two years' standing and intense felicity comes the first break when Stella- through another man- learns that Robert is a traitor to England. Unwilling to accept this, she faces the many fears and doubts which precede her acknowledgment to Robert of his defection, to his final admission to Stella of his betrayal and the confused ideological motivation behind it, and to his death... Elizabeth Bowen has a highly appreciative audience- to which the book club selection will add impetus- though this- for that audience- cannot compare with The Death of the Heart or The House in Paris.