Mrs. Johnson has not published much since her spate of popular novels in the 1930's. This savage, sentimental at times, often extraordinary chronicle of a year of natural order and human disorder is a mix of the worst and exciting best of this author's talents. Stridently contemporary in her appraisal of the travail of the times (the war, destruction of nature, the hypocrisy of ""religious"" idealism) Mrs. Johnson tends toward shrill declamation: ""God, I loathe the sentimentality we are drowning in."" However, her appreciations of the many forms of natural life are electrified by discovery and assertion. There is some of the best nature writing we've seen (the rakishly awful cycles of the lady-beetles; one sobering encounter with a harried fox; spiders and daddy longlegs, ""delicate and dreadful""). Mrs. Johnson is no dreamy wanderer through the fields, no bemused female by the seaside. She also has no anthropocentric illusions. (""Nothing's really against Nature. Nature's got everything. . . no bargains with God. He holds the bag."") Acerbic derivations; honest and imaginative illuminations.