A far cry from The Salzburg Tales, this essentially modern psychological novel of Australia. The story of a brother and sister, misfits in the conventional middle class life of their parents, adrift on the seas of communism, radicalism, and a brilliant, tragic, shallow circle of young rebels. Night schools, a shifting panorama of jobs, the recurrent rhythm of a printing office where some of their group work, and a succession of abortive affairs in which neither can find the love they seek outside each other. The war brings yet greater distortion to Michael's vision, and eventually he kills himself. Catherine, beating her head against the ineffectuality of her life, seeks escape in her unstable nerves, and has herself committed to an insane asylum. There is little plot to the book. It recalls the long-winded discourses of the Russian novels, the philosophical meanderings of The Bulpington of Blue, the perverted cynicism of Aldous Huxley, the oblique approach of Saroyan. A strange blend, and not easy reading. But the sharp contrast with the highly stylized Salzburg Tales marks Christina Stead as an original, a writer to watch.