During her last hours as she is dying of leukemia, Emmeline Gore looks back on her unsatisfactory life, and ""wandering about among the artifacts of memory"", she tries to probe the shadowy areas of guilt, even hate, in a past which at first seemed ""irrecoverable, remote and empty of pain"". Empty of pain it is not, although she had tried to evade and obscure all that was wrong in her marriage to a first cousin and composer, Andrew, which was primarily an ""elaborate technique"" of keeping apart while staying together. She tries to evaluate her own motivation, and his anger, in her destruction of his letters to her; she permits herself to face now his seduction of several young men, particularly an adopted son; and at the very close she is confronted with his affair with another woman through the surviving evidence of a child and she dies knowing only the uselessness of her life which she had once thought had at least served to protect him from himself... This is, unfortunately, a fairly doleful theme, and while the writer, a poet and a professor, writes fastidiously, the novel seems strangely disembodied. Perhaps this is appropriate to the experience at hand, but it does not involve the reader.