Another trip to MacDougall's New Hampshire--but a sprightier one this time, with a native-born couple facing assaults on their landscape, their marriage, and their wobbly old house. Ib (Isabel) and Jacob Weatherbee meet in England, seem to share Yankee ways (part-glum, part-antic), marry, and settle in Jacob's hometown. But then Jacob resigns as librarian for the local high school and begins a long unproductive ""sit"" . . . while Ib worries about money. The upshot? Well, once Jacob starts ticking again, they decide to ""buy a wreck, fix it up, and sell it."" And the wreck they buy, in the picture-book town of Dinsmere, is ""Shelterfield""--which has no water or electricity, and (after some early Jacob ferocity) no kitchen floor or bathroom wall. Two wells Will be dug in five months; beavers will be slaughtered; throughout the icy blasts of winter Jacob crawls through the skeletal decay--musing, pounding. Ib's recently-separated brother visits, circling around three local ladies. (An academia dropout tending bar; a real estate agent; and Ib's best friend Virginia, whose husband is trying to work out something ""viable"" with his wife and his male lover.) So, not surprisingly, Ib's mind wanders back through past houses, through happier times with a happier Jacob. She declines a pass after hovering near an old flame. And, as things become frenetic (even explosive) around the restoration-crazed neighborhood, she muses: ""How do you get through a life? . . . Think small, think eccentric?"" Darkly flip and often funny: an up-country view of marriage and other modern messes, strong on dry, wiry forebearance--and far livelier than most previous MacDougalls.