Here is a more than promise, in a first novel by a youth of twenty, already published and loudly acclaimed in England. An unusual and compelling book, this story of an ""old child,"" hyper-sensitive, intuitive, tragically alone, as he attempts to stand as buffer between his father, stifled by affection, his mother seeking solidity. Three maladjusted people, in the last analysis, but genuine and never verging on abnormality. A subtle use of the commonplace, made momentous by refraction in the child's mind; the interplay of past and present; a Proustian use of memory. Hard to define, but a book of definite charm, and an emotional intensity which neither oversteps nor destroys its reality.