Tad is a ""prodigal son"" and this is a story of family roots of cataclysms resulting in Tad's progress into virile, seasoned adulthood, etched against the New Hampshire countryside. There is something reminiscent of February Hill -- of Thomas Bear's Mrs. Egg stories, in its blend of robust qualities and family solidarity. The pull of the life he really loves, -- farming, maple sugaring, hunting, country parties, etc. -- bring Tad home to Jovian Mom, to quiet Pop, to wild Harriet and secretive Carrie -- and to Inez, who he loves, and who is ambitious for the bright lights. She lures him with dreams of New York and her acquiescence. He works to polish his speech, his manners, but she deserts him to go to the city with another -- comes back to enflame him again, and is turned out by Mom. With the death of his parents, Tad finds himself in his decision to stick by his own kind, and by Lois, Inez' sister, far better attuned to the real Tad.