Reverse the process of Thunder on the Left -- take an adult back into childhood to look at childhood at eight with the eyes of thirty eight -- and you have the most cryptic parallel one can give, in placing this book. Olivia, smart, sophisticated, with a laboriously built-up personality overlaying the past she has thought it well to forget, discovers in her backward passage that she has lost much in the process of smoothing off the edges. But the door closes --and she is her well-schooled self again. London, smart and modern; Ireland of the early 1900's; more complex than Thunder on the Left, or -- to pick a classic example of the same process, Dickens' Christmas Carol -- and yet believable. Not the garden variety of reader's book -- but many will like it.