Ever since Violet and Goodbye to Berlin. Christopher Isherwood has had more serious critical attention than these later, incidental short novels seem to deserve. This one is tagged as ""serio-comic"" in intent; it is by no means as peckishly unpleasant as A Single Man (1964); it is expectedly well-written and well-informed, and the background--a Hindu monastery near Calcutta--no doubt relates to his own pilgrimage in Ramakrishna and his Disciples (1965). About to take his final vows there is Oliver, always a ""demon disciple"" according to his older, worldlier brother, a rather insufferably pompous sort who comes to visit him during these last days. A sensualist, a bisexual, just emerging from a passionate entanglement with a young man in Hollywood, Patrick is an insidious dissuader, while Oliver, justifiably, is latently hostile and warily evasive. There is a confrontation, a conflict, a consummation of sorts, alternately narrated through Patrick's letters home and Oliver's diary, and it is sufficiently skillful to invite curiosity even though it may not prompt any deeper speculation.