Simply written and with a tone of distance this is a novel which profits from its aspects of the historical narrative. In October of 1915 -- the second winter of the War, Louis Terrin was in St. Petersburg. The youngest professor on the staff of the Roman Catholic Theological Academy, he had taken the chair of patristic theology at the age of twenty-seven. The son of a French hairdresser and an unwise Polish Countess, he had agreed, at sixteen, to a vocation and was sent to the Ambrosians in Milan and later to Rome where the distinguishes himself as a scholar. Now in 1915, never having heard a confession, scarcely aware even of the War, his studies were interrupted and he was assigned to take charge of a parish in Berioky -- a small German settlement in southeast Finland. Dismayed by the loss of his academic career, by his pastoral ineptitude and by the dim prospects awaiting him in a remote alien community, Father Terrin assumes his new duties with a scarcely concealed reluctance which conveys itself to his parishioners. It is in sharing the trials of harsh peasant life, the grimness of the War, the desolation of the Revolution and eventually in personal confrontation that Father Terrin slowly and painfully realizes that his ambition, no matter how he disguised it, was always in service of self. The book ends on this note but it leaves the reader wondering if, having passed his test, Louis Terrin, abandoned, will soon have a legitimate complaint. E. M. Almedingen is the author of Late Arrival and A Very Far Country.