Webster is a writer who's made victims her specialty, from the pair of loving loonies in To Fly a Kite (1986) to the abused boy in Johnnie Alone (1988). So it comes as no surprise that her heroine here is another one of the world's downtrodden--this time a battered wife named Laurie Collins. The knocking-about that causes Laurie to flee the shabby little council house where she's been trying to raise her two children is one of the worst her alcoholic, out-of, work husband, Jeff, has ever given her. When Laurie lands in Hyde House, a refuge for similarly battered wives, it's with a concussion, fractures, and a passel of broken ribs. Fortunately, her too-serious eight-year-old Jason and her baby daughter, Midge, settle in, and Laurie gets help putting Jeff in jail, if only for a few months. That's time enough for the little family to start a new life, first as itinerant hops pickers in Kent (where Laurie meets Clem, a kindly man who saves swans entangled in fishing nets), and then in a cottage on the Cornish coast. Predictably, though, Jeff shows up after his release from prison to nearly push both Laurie and Midge over a cliff. Instead, he takes the fall himself, leaving Laurie free for Clem, the swans, and a blissful future. If only abused wives ended up so well. But this is pure fantasy--another Webster fairy tale pasted together with symbolism as subtle as a set of dumbbells. File it under fatuous.