A fictional story with an atmospheric setting- in which somehow the background takes precedence over the story, and almost succeeds in absorbing and immobilizing the characters. The cycle begins and ends with Paul Davey, middle westerner, who is running away from the claims of his upbringing, rural small town, and from the memories of an unhappy marriage that ended with his wife's suicide, of his approach to- his departure from Guatemala, by air. A modern miracle brings into sharp relief the primitiveness of this part of Central America, and here Paul seeks- and for a time thinks he has found an answer. He will be a painter. He might even be an administrator of a coffee finca. He finds himself ensnared by the sultry charm of the country, the slow-motion pattern of life, the ineffectualness of the foreigners captured and held by the manana rhythms. There's pathetic little lonely old Mrs. Eckles, kept at a distance by her children, who don't want to be managed; there's Ellen and Silas, chafing at matrimony, at divergent backgrounds -- trying to find escape in busy-ness, false fronts, and people; there are Steve and Rosa, always quarreling- and Rosa trying to possess Deborah, while really hating her; there is Deborah, not able to grow up- not sure whether she loves the painter, Buck, or the ineffectual Paul. And there are the Heinrichs, with all their plotting of other people's lives. A bit of the South Wind aura, here, in a melange of expatriates, seeking reality where no reality- for them- can lie. Overlong- but worth reading.