Third novel in Melville's Lorimer family saga, this splays out a gigantic cast through two world wars, from 1914 to 1947. It all begins on the eve of destruction with the elegantly dressed Lorimers at Blaize, Lord Glanville's country house on the Thames--where Lady Alexis Glanville (nÃ‰e Lorimer) et al. are celebrating the 21st birthday of Alexis' half-nephew. . . who, with others, will be killed in the coming bloodshed. And throughout the years there will be many deaths and umpteen births and some intra-familial marriages and love affairs. Mother confessor and ""heart of the family"" before she dies at 80 is energetic Dr. Margaret (key female in The Lorimer Line)--but after Margaret's death the family bastion will be Alexis, once lover of ""nephew"" Matthew, now mother of legitimate Pirry and illegitimate Frisca (who is headed for Hollywood stardom). Troubles come in battalions: Margaret's son Robert will sire daughter Barbary and also illegitimate Bernard (by Frisca!); Margaret's nephew Grant, a crippled WW II POW, will marry Barbary (who falls in love with her uncle, American Brad). Plus: Barbary's suicide; Pirry's coming out of the closet; and (at the end) Alexis' attempt to gain custody of child Asha, orphaned daughter of Barbary and Grant. But it's Kate, Margaret's niece, who has the most spectacular career: from WW I nurse in Serbia; to Russia, where she lives through years of hardship and disguises her English identity; to birth of daughter Ilse, who'll be a musician and concentration-camp survivor. Will Ilse eventually find her way to Blaize, now run by Alexis as a school for the musically gifted? And will long-lost Kate turn up there too? Readers will hang around to find out (with lots of loose ends left for Vol. Four)--because Melville writes with an airy ease through this dense tangle, and it's all as drowsily soothing as the humming of bees.