A slender, agreeable enterprise, this novel is fabricated of family life on an Irish estate before the times changed forever with the advent of World War II. Valerie, the narrator, is the victoriously compulsive eavesdropper of the family, who is clearly in a position to tell all about her sisters Elinor, Vinia and Betty, and the backstairs help as well. Knockmarron, as the seat of what action there is in a proud, ingrown family, takes a lot of wear before its inhabitants learn to march to a different beat. The joys and sorrows of school days, with Elinor's cool superiority, Vinia's fierce passions, and Betty's subversive tactics (employed with complete success to rout Mrs. Lundy, the governess) offer the stuff for discreet, if vapid storytelling. The onslaught of less discreet, if overtly reputable relatives, say Uncle Geoffrey who attacks Woman (including Vinia) and Aunt Colombine who pinches adds a touch of raffish humor. With the war, Knockmarron becomes a running farm under Mother's untried hand, and the house's great days are gone. Irish mist.