Year before last Furslane was published and quietly won its laurels, all unheralded. Now the University of North Caroline Press is bringing out another first novel, for which they claim equal merit -- First, The Fields. It is the story of Hugh Winton's love for the land, of his determination to hold it, no matter what the cost. Actually, the thought of not holding it does not appear to cross his mind as a solution of an impossible situation, as the tobacco market collapses, the hopes for the Co-op fade, the banks withhold credit. It is a story of dogged determination, of loyalty to the people who trust in him, and of almost unconscious blindness to his wife's gradual hardening and withdrawal an he puts always ""first, the fields"". I've read no book that makes one so much a part of the rhythmic cycle of tobacco, and of the country that produces it. I loved the first half of the book, Hugh's boyhood and first passion, his denial of his father's warning that in the land lay the past, not the future. To me the focus changed as the book developed; Hugh was a less sympathetic character; there was an overwhelming sense of frustration in all that touched him. Skillfully handled, with overtones and undertones that are almost better than the central theme, this book introduces a new and promising writer.