The period , with faint rumblings of another war in the offing. The setting -- Nantucket, a woman's island during two thirds of every year, until the men come back from the Banks and the whale fishing. Elizabeth Frost can be commended for a convincing recapturing of place and time, of people, and the way they felt and thought and spoke and looked, and the things they did. One shares the daily round; one sees the intolerance, the suspicions, the criticism -- and then the openhearted, openhanded response to emergency. Beyond that -- for me -- the book fails, for the story, the romance, the adventure bogs down in the artificiality and sentimentality of the style.