Unifying this new novel, which is staggered through several generations from 1910 through World War II, is the concept of doing towards and for others so that the ""quality of mercy"" is shown to be something more than the charity ball with which the story opens in a midwestern town. Faith Rice, daughter of a self-made millionaire, is aware of the pretence in this kind of philanthropy and defies her father by falling in love with a young doctor with a poor practice. Her father, attempting to insure his immortality with the gift of a hospital to the town, still imposes restrictive clauses on his charitable contribution so that a young unwed mother will die because she is refused admission, and her infant, Stephen Bryant, will be farmed out in an orphanage and foster homes. Faith marries her doctor after her father's death, and in the next generation their daughter Pamela's life will overlap with Stephen Bryant's- during the war and after. This traces their crossing connections as Pamela marries a British nobleman, Stephen devotes himself to Red Cross work and UNRRA, and all are involved in the joint effort to bring relief to the victims of the devastated areas.... There are cumulatively several romances, and some posh to plush backgrounds, to combine the attractions of doing well with the virtues of doing good. It will not disappoint the audience you can by now safely assume.