Like the hero of O'Hara's Appointment In Samara, Tommy Baring is hyper-aware of every social nuance, but he feels these things more painfully. As the scholarship boy at an uppercrust prep school, one of the poor ones at Harvard, and the man who threw over his fiancee to marry a daughter of money, Baring has survived by selling small pieces of himself. The Barings and their three children live in Coldstream, self-consciously quaint Massachusetts exurbia. Mr. Fairbairn's novel has documented the atmosphere to a fare-thee-well; the Sunday morning trip to the dump; the country club membership being withheld from Baring for the right reasons and being awarded for the wrong ones; and the rigid zoning laws that keep only the rich and their vassals inside the town limits. A mother-in-law's gift to the couple who has everything takes the form of a nubile Swiss governess, Gretchen. Baring starts out on a plane of courtly love for the girl and the author achieves a sympathetic portrait of Baring throughout the first half of the short novel. When he begins to unmask his anti-hero, stripping him to the naked, compulsive opportunism that has always made Baring run, Mr. Fairbairn doesn't miss a trick. Cretchen is to be the victim and Baring's active and almost open attempts at seduction are to be considered all her fault. Only one member of the tight little self-appointed aristocracy is able to say that the ""Emperor has no clothes"" and is rewarded with exile. Top grade fiction, visual action and ear-perfect conversation.