The lives often ugly and unimportant -- of Mrs. Litke and her children, in postwar Chicago, provide a pleasing photograph of her but not such distinct snapshots of the others. In audible, accurate reporting Margery's romance with Johnny is told, Alan's reasons for withdrawal and dispassion, Harry and Lois' recipe for marriage in spite of obstacles; in greater emphasis is the battle between Ella and her demon son, Billy, who acts as catalyst in the dramatic finale. Billy, who never had a chance, who was mistrusted by all save Mrs. Litke, who scorned the law as well as society, and whose too sharp knowledge, learned in orphanage, reform school and jail, was the cause of his death at the hands of his step-father. And through it all, Mrs. Litke, who believes in goodness, who is quick to admonish while helping, gossips and emotes her way through every crisis, and, when Marge is married and several times a mother, steps aside to a commonplace death. The not so comfortable ruts of human existence, this is unaccented in its narration, not always successful in its characterization.