Yes, the doctor's wife is the heroine of this romance, though on the surface it would seems, rather, to be the story of Rex Tweed, portrait painter on the edge of recognition, and Elizabeth, his wife, whom he adored, and whose professional aspirations in the theatre he smilingly accepted. Elizabeth's first London success comes almost simultaneously with Rex' commission to do a portrait of a strange and great lady, Mrs. Earle. Absorbed in his rather baffling contacts with the old lady, Rex faces with shock the news that America wants Elizabeth- and that she is going. Hurt, angered, he is more or less persuaded gently into letting her go, and his mother-in-law, Rose, ""the doctor's wife"", comes to stay. She's enchanting company -- like and unlike his Elizabeth; and bit by bit he learns more of her past, her marriage to the dour doctor who insisted on staying alone in Edinburgh, and something (from her son, the frustrated Martin) of her youth and the tragedies of a lost art and a lost son. He learns, too, that his client, Mrs. Earle, bears a mysterious bitterness towards his mother-in-law, but it is only after Rose's death- and her last hours of cruelty to the man she had sheltered, that he sees behind the facade of two elderly women, somehow cheated in life. And learns, too, what he must do, to save his own marriage.... Post-war London, with its ""shorts"", its discomforts; a romance behind a romance, subtly handled. Swinnerton has developed, in his style, some rather irritating mannerisms which give one a sense of choppiness, quite different from his one-time suavity. Could it be an effort to appear more modern than his substance?