Anna apparent -- is she just what she seems? -- the ""relict"" of Crystal who adopts her during the war, a farouche, filthy, frightened child who attaches herself gratefully to the vain and self-regarding Crystal. Anna of course becomes more civilized -- her story is told in installments -- a seemingly open, naive, handsome young woman, in an overgrown way, who appropriates Crystal's son Giles from another woman (Giles is a conventional and rather dull sort) and then moves on in her thoughtless, primitive fashion to a still younger lover. Nina Bawden has always presented such ingratiating characters that you wonder, distantly, at her interest in Anna, and question, equally, the lack of seeming definition in her story until you realize that it's all a deception, just like Anna -- not one of circumstance's casualties but one of life's adaptable cadgers on its most available terms. Having only applied attractive adjectives to this writer's earlier novels, it would be nice to be able to repeat them all. However when cleverness, a parlous asset, comes in the door, sympathy may go out the window. So adjust your expectations -- you'll find that the novel is still adroit.