Winner of the Christopher Award, in a story of spiritual triumph. But its appeal will lie in its perceptive, though often harrowing, story of family life -- and in its saga of a lawyer in a small town in the northern mid-west, whose passionate devotion to lost causes made him a failure in the eyes of the world. Gabriel Martel was considered a brilliant luminary in the legal world, but his uncompromising refusal to truckle under, to cater to the powers that might have brought him success, resulted in his losing every material reward he craved. His wife, a realist, died in childbirth, resenting his failure; his eldest son, Chris, like- and yet unlike- his father, chose erratic paths to thwart all efforts to direct him, and broke his father's heart; Carroll, the second son, took the way of expediency, regardless of those in his path; Jean, yearning for the affection her father was too absorbed to give her, eventually became a lone wolf, and when success in music was within her grasp, she couldn't share it with Gabriel, but turned from him; Alvin, the youngest, never wavered in his love and faith- but Gabriel's eyes were elsewhere, and always Chris came first. A lonely life of defeat and frustration, lightened by the worship of those underprivileged he fought to save- and at the end, crowned by rising above the littleness of worldly defeat in supreme faith without self pity in failure being his worldly lot. An inspiring sort of book without at any time being a preachy one. Of special- but certainly not exclusive- Catholic interest.