This book returns Ann Bridge to her earlier champ de combat, the Anglicized China of Peking Picnic and Ginger Griffin. It is in a sense a more mature book, a more astute one, limiting itself to the gently satirical dissection of five rather minor people. However, it lacks the plot sense of her earlier books -- and this may be a stiff hurdle. The five are headed by Rose, a volatile, pretty, but integrally washy young woman, in flight from an un-understanding husband. Staying with her two cerebral cousins, she meets a happy amorist with whom she has an affair, and Hillier, a chronic cynic. The five take a long walking trip through North China, and their romantic inclinations jell, Rose turning from Henry to her cousin Antony, Hillier intrigued by the other cousin, Anastasia. And another reversal in Rose's amatory progress by the close. Intelligent, perforating without acridity, but extremely conversational for so long a book, and Miss Bridge may be talking herself out of a very solid audience.