Mr. Bell is a teacher, poet, and man of letters. This is his first published novel. In form and idea it is a highly unconventional and extremely personal achievement, yet antecedents are recognized in modern writing: primarily, Mr. Bell is a member of that school for which James Agee would be the most likely presiding spirit. There is no plot, as such, only a thin slice of time,- three weeks, invested with all possible significance, private and universal, in past events and future probabilities. It might be called ""a portrait of a marriage"", or ""a portrait of a land"". The hero, Daniel Byrne, is called home from his Maryland farm to tend to his stricken aunt's cluttered affairs in Mississippi, while his wife Lucy goes to the side of her ailing uncle, the head of her Quaker family clan. Through a fascinating welter of familiar detail, each carries on ""the search, the fugal chase"" for clues to what they are and why and how their marriage can bear fruit. The almost interminable analysis is both compassionate and courageous. The style is sometimes lush but usually superb. There is and can be no end for such a book, no single answer; but the trip through the labyrinth can in itself be a sufficient reward.