Change, transition, an inevitable growing up within the eternal cyclic movement of the seasons. This is the obvious theme of this account of an Australian boyhood Rob Coran is a sensitive six year old who had already ""discovered Time"" when his cousin Rick goes off to war. He is fourteen when Rick returns, a haunted man. The first half of the novel is a beautifully descriptive invocation of these years in Rob's life. The sight, sound and smell of the land surround the reader as he observes Rob and his family, the Maplesteads living with the tempo of war. But war is really a secondary concern of the boy who is busy with his exploration of the world even as the family is evacuated from place to place. Events move with a lyrical impressionism: Aunt Kate ""fearfully Scotch,"" his grandmother washing her hair, war games with friends, a visit to London. In the meantime Rob's hero, Rick, has spent his 21st birthday in a Japanese Prison Camp. After Rick's return, the novel abruptly loses its flow and the writing becomes forced, as strained as Rick's relationship with his friend from the camp, as trying as Rick's attempts to readjust to his former life and to maintain the image Rob has of him. When Rick decides to leave, Rob realizes that unlike the merry-go-round, life can never get back to where it was before. One wishes that Mr. Stow would have stopped his merry-go-round at the halfway point.