A quiet novel, told in snatches (there are letters- random conversations- set scenes through the years from 1883 to 1938) traces the relationship between Caroline Knevett and Wyn, tagged as the ""village idiot"" when Caroline first knew her and managed, where others failed, to communicate with her. It is to the writer's credit (and her long years of experience go back to The Constant Nymph) that she manages to quicken the reader's interest without ever really satisfying it. However, it also lead to some of the book's irresolution.... Caroline, one of the three last in a clutch of twelve children, grows up not only with her obligatory burden, another sister who is not quite right, but also with a fondness for Wyn who proves to be gifted as well as afflicted. She becomes an artist and also learns to speak (to those she likes). She crosses Ca's lifetime of service to others, teaching deaf children; then at the end there is a surprising postscript to Ca's life.... An odd story, occasionally entertaining in its worldly touches and asides both on character and period, this escapes any suggestion of the sentimental or sanctimonious while dealing with a life of dedication.