In its florid way, this story does manage to communicate the backward social condition of southern Italy which was glossed over in the author's Five Children and a Dog. The heroine, Agata La Rosa, and her family, moved from Sicily to the Northern city of Turin after a good friend, a trade unionist, was murdered. Their life is an illustration of the ingrained baronial/powerless peasant class structure, the dominance of terrorism over justice, the inability of the peasant to recognize the possibility of change and progress, his dedication to his own plot of land, and his fear of organization, and the attitude that the woman belongs in the home and must not be educated. And the La Rosa's move to Turin underlines the suspicion between northerners and southerners, their inability to consider themselves one nationality, and their hesitance to help each other. These are powerful elements and they make this story worthwhile. Unfortunately however its potential strength is weakened by the fact that the plot is cluttered with too many events, many of them quite unnecessary and without clear relevance, by the unsatisfactory ending which leaves too much unresolved, and by the fact that none of the characters, although initially very good social types, are developed into strong, believable personalities.