What would seem to be yet another easily accessible story of fateful adolescence, this time in the impoverished 1930s Ontario countryside, has its deeper, darker aspects which develop almost unnoticed. Patch (Padraic) and Bride (Brigid) Fallen undergo the usual changeover from shared childhood games to separate teenage pursuits after Mother runs off with a tea salesman and Father invites Aunt Kate, all crust and self-denial, to do the housekeeping. Patch eyes the adults around them warily, enduring Father Blaney's carnality lectures, catching treasured glimpses of women's breasts, and thinking of lovely Laurel Dansinger. But the pastoral scene is interrupted by unexpected events and further complicated by mutual incestuous feelings which are finally acknowledged but go unexplored and unreconciled: Patch goes off to sea, Bride succumbs to some (unmentionable?) illness. Although Sears sometimes overextends the atmospherics, he knows the rhythms well, alternating ""periods of almighty gloom"" with highflying excitements. His sealed-up loners--""valiant papists"" and heavy drinkers who only allude to their losses (""The wind shifted to the north"")--linger along with the images of intense affection and foreshortened hopes.