A first novel- of an Australian mining town- shows up the thin, harsh lives there with an accomplished- rather than an original-hand. And the census it takes from house to house is easy to tabulate; there's Mike Lambert, a newspaperman, a destructive drinker who has not the courage of his contempt- or his love for Fanny Warrener; Fanny, a milliner, newly arrived in town and easy to vilify and victimize because of her relationship with Mike; George Morgan, a strike leader and the innocent butt of a police officer; Hemminger, a selfless doctor, and Mary, his self-pitying wife; Quint, who owns the town and the local paper- but is hoisted on the petard of a headline, written by Mike; etc. etc. And as ill will builds to a demonstration in which lives are lost, Mike leaves town- and Fanny- who refuses the easy escape he offers her... Lives which are narrow in conviction, drab in circumstance, these are recorded in a bright, bitter commentary which does not conceal the sincerity of its idealism- facile as much of it may seem.